Congress leader Rahul Gandhi announced on Sunday (April 18) that he has cancelled all his election rallies in poll-bound West Bengal due to the spike in COVID-19 cases. He also advised all political leaders to “think about the consequences of holding large public rallies”.
Gandhi wrote on Twitter, “In view of the COVID situation, I am suspending all my public rallies in West Bengal. I would advise all political leaders to think deeply about the consequences of holding large public rallies under the current circumstances.”
The Congress MP has taken this decision in the wake of another highest single-day spike of COVID-19 cases with India recording over 2.61 lakh new cases and 18 lakh active cases.
A day before he had slammed Modi government for the worsening situation, urging the Centre to come up with a better vaccination plan. “Central government’s mix of arrogance and suppression of the truth is killing lakhs of people,” he had tweeted.
The Congress has been extremely critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for continuing to vigorously campaign in West Bengal despite the huge surge in COVID-19 cases in the country. And, even as states are battling with vaccine shortages and lack of oxygen, beds and critical COVID medicines.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who addressed a large crowd in Purbasthali Uttar in West Bengal on Sunday, is set to hold multiple rallies and roadshows in the state. The fifth phase of voting has just concluded in West Bengal, which has still three more phases to complete in this fiercely-fought Assembly election.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the major crowd-puller for the BJP’s Bengal campaign, has also held many election rallies on April 17. In fact, at a rally in Asansol, Modi had said in his speech that he was “elated” to see the huge crowd that attended his meeting. To which, senior party leader P Chidambaram has accused him of displaying “shocking callousness” for holding big political rallies in the midst of a steep rise in Covid-19 cases.
He said the Prime Minister should be doing his job, sitting at his desk and coordinating with Chief Ministers in handling the Covid pandemic.
As India is in the grip of a severe second wave of the pandemic, West Bengal registered a 78 per cent voter turnout in the fifth phase of voting on April 17. Polling for the 6th, 7th, and 8th phases will be held on April 22, April 26 and April 29 respectively.