The Election Commission of India (ECI) has convened an all-party meeting on Friday in Kolkata to discuss strategies to limit the spread of Covid-19 during public election rallies in West Bengal. Aariz Aftab, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of West Bengal, will preside over the meeting. Aftab called the meeting after the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday asked the CEO and concerned officials to ensure strict adherence to guidelines of coronavirus pandemic as mandated by ECI in the remaining phases of polling in West Bengal.
The poll body will meet one representative of every political party today to discuss the implementation of COVID-19 norms for the upcoming four phases of the election. The poll body has asked all political parties in West Bengal to send only one representative to attend the meeting. State Health secretary NS Nigam and additional director general of police (law and order) Jag Mohan will also attend the meeting.
Polling in four phases have already taken place in the eastern state while polling in the he remaining 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th phases will take place on April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29, respectively. Results will be announced on May 2.
Meanwhile, the ECI has rejected speculation of clubbing the next phases of WB Assembly election on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Calcutta High Court had directed that all the health-related guidelines must be followed in the most possible manner with regard to campaigning by parties during WB assembly polls. Two Public Interest Litigations (PILs) were filed before a division bench presided by Chief Justice TB Nair Radhakrishnan. The bench ordered all the district magistrates (DMs) to ensure that the guidelines which were laid down by EC and CEO are implemented very strictly.
On Thursday, West Bengal registered a record 6,769 new COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths attributed to coronavirus compared to 5,892 cases and 24 deaths on Wednesday. The increase has taken the total active cases to 36, 981.