'Criminal negligence bordering on manslaughter': Mahua Moitra slams EC over 8-phase Bengal polls amid Covid-19
Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson Mahua Moitra on Thursday attacked the Election Commission (EC), claiming that its decision to hold assembly elections in West Benal in eight phases amid the Covid-19 pandemic is "criminal negligence bordering on manslaughter".
"It is certainly criminal negligence bordering on manslaughter on part of @ECISVEEP to mandate 8 phase election in WB in middle of worst pandemic. Unbelievable that we are being put through this. Infections, deaths rising everyday," tweeted Mahua Moitra from her official Twitter account.
Polling for the fifth phase of the West Bengal elections is set to take place on April 17. The four earlier phases of the elections were held on March 27, April 1, April 6, and April 10 respectively, all while India battles a deadlier, second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. On Thursday, Congress candidate Rezaul Haque, who had tested positive for Covid-19 two days ago, passed away at a hospital in Kolkata, triggering outrage and appeals to the Election Commission to take note of the situation. West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury condoled Haque's death and said the Election Commission should take note of the various instances of violation of safety protocols at poll rallies.
"I have written to the commission, stating how Covid regulations are being violated. We need to raise the awareness level," news agency PTI quoted Adhir Chowdhury as saying.
West Bengal chief electoral officer (CEO) Aariz Aftab has called for an all-party meeting on April 16, according to an EC official, to discuss the norms of social distancing and relevant Covid-19 protocol. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) has already decided that no big rallies will be organised by it for campaigning for the remaining phases of the state election and emphasis would be laid on door-to-door campaigning and small group meetings. On Tuesday, the Calcutta High Court had directed that all health-related guidelines should be maintained in the strictest possible manner with regard to campaigning by political parties for the West Bengal assembly polls in view of the resurgence in Covid-19 cases.
Meanwhile, India reported over 2 lakh coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases on Thursday, the highest single-day spike so far since the pandemic broke out. With over 2,00,739 cases recorded in the last 24 hours, the health ministry data shows that India's single-day spike went from 1 lakh over to over 2 lakh in just 10 days. India's cumulative Covid-19 case tally has now crossed the 14 million mark. The death toll, too, rose to 173,123 with more than 1,000 new fatalities recorded for the second in a row.