The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday dismissed speculations that the final four phases of the ongoing Assembly elections in West Bengal could be clubbed due to the massive rise in daily COVID-19 cases, news agency ANI reported.
"No such plan of clubbing phases," said the ECI on speculations about the Commission clubbing remaining Assembly election phases in West Bengal into one.
The rising COVID-19 cases is a cause of worry for the state. On Wednesday, the state recorded its highest-ever single-day spike of 5,892 coronavirus cases, taking the tally to 6,30,116, the state health department bulletin said. The death toll in West Bengal rose to 10,458 after 24 more fatalities were recorded, it added. The number of active cases in the state has jumped to 32,621.
The Chief Electoral Office in West Bengal has called for an all-party meeting in Kolkata on Friday to discuss adherence to COVID-19 guidelines issued by the poll commission. The commission has asked the parties to send only one representative for the meeting. "A meeting has been called by CEO West Bengal to ask all political parties to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines mandated by the Election Commission of India (ECI) for strict compliance," an ECI Official said.
Earlier last week, the Election Commission had written to all national and state parties asking them to follow all COVID-related guidelines during public meetings, rallies and other activities. The Commission also took a 'serious view of the laxity in maintaining norms, particularly not wearing masks by political leaders on stage.'
The high-decibel campaigning for the fifth of the eight phases of the ongoing West Bengal Assembly elections concluded at 6 pm on Wednesday as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic continued to rage on.
The fifth phase of polling will be held on Saturday.