The Congress candidate from Samserganj Assembly segment, Rezaul Haque, died after testing postive for Covid-19 at a private hospital in Calcutta early on Thursday within hours of being admitted there. Haque was 46.
Haque apart, a few other candidates such as RSP candidate from the Jangipur Assembly segment in Murshidabad Pradip Nandy, Trinamul candidate from Goalpokhor in North Dinajpur Gulam Rabbbani, and Trinamul candidate from Jalpaiguri P.K. Barma have tested Covid-19 positive. They are either admitted to hospital or are in home isolation.
Samserganj Assembly seat’s election is likely to be deferred because of the death of a candidate. In case of other segments where candidates have tested Covid-19 positive, elections would be held according to schedule but the candidates would not be able to go out to campaign, sources said.
“We have informed the Election Commission about the death of a candidate in Samserganj and will await its directive regarding the election scheduled for later this month,” said district magistrate and returning officer Sharad Dwivedi, adding that the last date for the withdrawal of candidature had ended.
Responding to Haque’s death, Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury said: “We mourn the loss of our colleague and are ready to accept whatever the EC decides for the upcoming election.”
Following Haque’s death, Trinamul candidate and incumbent MLA Amirul Haque said he would join the campaigning of other party candidates in other constituencies.
Haque was a popular businessman in Murshidabad’s Dhulian, with business interests spread across sectors like education, automobile spare parts and betel leaf trade.
Senior health department officials said infections among the candidates were a headache for the administration.
“If candidates are getting infected, it is clear that political rallies are gradually turning into Covid-19 hotspots, which was being feared. This is why we were requesting political parties to follow Covid-19 protocols during rallies and campaigns. But the protocols continue to be flouted despite the EC’s orders,” said a senior health department official.