The Election Commission on Friday said it wouldn’t hesitate to ban public meetings and rallies if Covid-19 protocols were flouted.
In a letter to all heads of national and state parties on Friday, the Election Commission reiterated norms of using masks, sanitizers and thermal scanning, and following social distancing — violations of which are punishable under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and the Indian Penal Code, 1860, — during campaigns.
Delhi High Court had on Thursday issued a notice to the EC on the plea of a former DGP to enforce pandemic safety norms in the campaigns.
In Bengal, five more phases of polls remain to be held. Three phases of elections are already over in the state.
Commission secretary N. Bhutia added in the latter: “It is advisable that political/leaders candidates who have incumbent duty to control spread of Covid, demonstrate by their personal example and nudge all supporters in the beginning of rally, meetings, campaign itself to wear masks, use sanitizers and put in place crowd control measures as per social distancing norms…. It is clarified that the Commission, in cases of breach, will not hesitate in banning public meetings, rallies etc. of the defaulting candidates. star campaigners political leaders without any further reference.”
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, his predecessor Oomen Chandy and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP in Tamil Nadu Kanimozhi tested positive for the novel coronavirus this week. The one-phase polling in Tamil Nadu and Kerala had been held on April 6.