Chandigarh MC polls: Covid norms go for a toss amid electioneering
With just 10 days left for campaigning to end in the city, political parties and candidates are going all out to reach as many voters as possible, often while ignoring all Covid guidelines and protocols.
This, even as the daily Covid tally has been consistently rising in the tricity. The campaigning for Chandigarh municipal corporation elections will end on December 21, and thereafter 72 hours have been designated as “silence period” by the state election commission (SEC) till the voting ends on December 24. In view of the pandemic, the SEC, in addition to the standard model code of conduct for elections, also issued separate Covid guidelines on November 26.
Most of the violations are taking place when candidates go for door-to-door campaigning. While the guidelines state that not more than five people can go for door-to-door campaigning, in some cases, it is seen that there is a sizeable crowd tagging along with candidates.
Chandigarh Congress president Subhash Chawla said, “All candidates, not only from Congress but other parties too, generally start with only five people. But as they move along the constituency, their supporters start joining them. It becomes very difficult for them to stop these supporters.”
In public meetings too, crowds are being gathered in excess of the permissible limits. In the public meetings, Covid norms, including social distancing and use of masks, sanitisers, thermal scanners, face shields, hand gloves, etc, are not being followed.
In case, a candidate or a political party violates any of the guidelines, no more permission will be given to the candidate/party concerned for rallies, meetings etc. “If any star campaigner violates Covid protocols, he/she shall not be allowed to campaign further in that constituency/ district,” stipulates the SEC guidelines.
District magistrate Vinay Pratap Singh, said, “This has come to my notice too. We will issue fresh instructions to the political parties on Monday. Returning officers (ROs) have also been instructed to strictly enforce these guidelines. A review meeting will be held on December 15.”
After the review, the administration will decide if any new directions and measures should be taken in this regard.
“In the light of advisory issued by the health ministry of Gol, SEC will keep a close watch on the evolving situation and may further tighten the guidelines for the upcoming elections,” said a SEC spokesperson.