EC reviews COVID situation in poll-bound states, but election postponement unlikely
The Election Commission (EC) on Monday assessed the COVID situation in the poll-bound states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur with the Union health secretary.
With a surge in Omicron cases across India, there are concerns about how elections and rallies will be held in these states in the next few months.
According to media reports, the EC has asked the Centre to speed up vaccination in these five states and ensure everyone is fully-jabbed at the earliest.
However, it seems unlikely that Assembly polls in the five states will be postponed.
It was reported that health secretary Rajesh Bhushan briefed the poll panel for nearly an hour on the COVID situation in the country and the spread of the Omicron variant. “It was a session meant to get information. The commission assessed the situation based on statistics provided (by the health ministry),” one sources was quoted as saying by PTI.
In Uttarakhand and Goa, first-dose vaccine coverage is close to a 100 per cent, while in Uttar Pradesh it is nearly 85 per cent and in Manipur and Punjab around 80 per cent.
On Tuesday, the EC will begin a three-day visit to Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s most populous states, to review poll preparedness there.
Days ago, an Allahabad High Court bench of Justice Shekhar Yadav had urged the central government and the Election Commission to consider postponing the upcoming Assembly elections by a month or two and banning all political rallies on account of the COVID situation.
The EC is expected to announce election dates next month. It has also asked the Narcotics Control Bureau to ensure drugs do not influence the elections, especially in Punjab and Goa.