Looking at the rapid rise in the number of COVID cases in the state, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declared that Trinamool Congress will not hold big rallies or roadshows in Kolkata, besides cutting down the time of small rallies.
Speaking to a local news channel on Sunday (April 19), Banerjee said, “I won’t hold big campaign rallies in Kolkata, except one on the last day of campaigning i.e. on April 26.”
Mamata, however, said her party workers would hold small street-corner meetings. “On my part, I will bring down the duration of my rallies from 60 minutes to 30 minutes,” the Trinamool Congress President said.
A few hours before Mamata’s decision, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi suspended all public rallies in West Bengal. “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,” Gandhi tweeted.
The CPIM was the first to stop big rallies though. A week before, the Left took the decision to avoid huge gatherings and focus on door-to-door and social media campaign.
On Friday (April 16), the Election Commission banned rallies, public meetings, street plays and nukkad sabhas between 7pm and 10am every day. It also increased the silence period from 48 hours to 72 hours for the last three phases of the eight-phase Bengal elections.
Most COVID cases have been reported from the state capital, Kolkata (2,200 on Sunday), which along with North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Howrah, accounts for 60% of state’s daily case count.
On Sunday, West Bengal reported 8,419 new cases, the highest daily count in the state since the outbreak last year.