The deadly COVID-19 infection has taken a toll on Indian politics by playing a disrupting force in the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections and a Lok Sabha by-election in Andhra Pradesh.
A Congress candidate, PSW Madhava Rao who had contested from Srivilliputhur constituency in the 2021 Tamil Nadu (TN) Assembly elections succumbed to the deadly virus at a hospital on Sunday. His death by the coronavirus may lead to a by-election if he wins the seat in this constituency, which is situated in Virudhunagar district. Polling to the 234 seats in the TN Assembly was concluded on April 6, while counting starts on May 2.
In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh (AP) too, a by-election to the Tirupati (SC) parliamentary constituency had become necessary, after YSR Congress party MP Balli Durga Prasad too died of COVID-19 in October last year. The elections to this Lok Sabha constituency had been scheduled for April 17 but a surge in coronavirus cases in AP has become a barrier for political leaders to campaign here.
On Saturday, AP registered 2,765 infections and has a positivity rate of 8.67 %, which is higher than the national 5.87% rate. Since March 15, there has been a steady climb in the cases in this southern state triggering concern. The Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy too cancelled his Tirupati bypoll campaign programme scheduled to be held on April 14.
CM Reddy said that he was concerned that many people would flock to his election rallies increasing the chances of spreading the deadly infection. In an open letter to the voters, he had noted that the Tirupati parliamentary constituency includes Chittoor and Nellore districts, which have notched up a significant spike in Covid cases in the past few days.
Of the 2,765 positive cases on Saturday, 496 cases were registered in Chittoor and 292 cases in Nellore districts. Out of 11 people who died due to Covid, four were from Chittoor and Nellore districts, he said in the letter, said The Indian Express. Hence, to avoid risking the health and lives of people, as a responsible Chief Minister he had decided to cancel his election tour for the bypoll and requested the residents to vote for YSRCP candidate Dr M Gurumoorthy. Earlier, the Telugu Desam Party candidate, a former MP Panabaka Lakshmi had been campaigning vigorously for the bypoll too.
Meanwhile, since Madhava Rao, the Congress candidate in the TN Assembly elections had died after the polling, re-polling will not be held in Sirivilliputhur constituency, but in the event of him winning the seat, a bypoll will become necessary.