Former chief election commissioner Sunil Arora with the chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra (L) and election commissioner Rajiv Kumar (R). Chandra and Kumar have tested positive.(PTI)
Former chief election commissioner Sunil Arora with the chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra (L) and election commissioner Rajiv Kumar (R). Chandra and Kumar have tested positive.(PTI)

Two top poll panel officials test Covid-19 positive

The EC is constantly in touch with all required officials via video call to ensure the smooth conduct of the remaining three phases of the West Bengal elections, said the people cited.
By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 20, 2021 03:25 AM IST

Chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra and election commissioner Rajiv Kumar have both tested positive for Covid-19, as the bitterly fought elections in West Bengal continue, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The post of the third commissioner has been vacant since April 13, when former CEC Sunil Arora demitted office. People familiar with the matter said that other senior officials, such as some deputy election commissioners, also contracted the virus and all those who have tested positive are in quarantine.

Despite all odds, the EC is constantly in touch with all required officials via video call to ensure the smooth conduct of the remaining three phases of the West Bengal elections, said the people cited above.

HT on April 9 reported that in the politically fraught battle in Bengal, the EC received over 19,000 complaints, of which only 99 remained to be resolved as of April 8. The high stakes political battle has had various party leaders knocking on the EC’s door to intervene in cases of violation of the poll code.

On Sunday, the commission imposed a 24-hour campaigning ban on Sujata Mondal and Sayantan Basu for code violation.

EC seeks officials’ reply on feasibility of polls

The Election Commission of India on Monday has sought feedback from poll officials in West Bengal regarding the feasibility of allowing election rallies, a person familiar with the matter said. This comes amid a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases across the country which has parties demanding that public rallies be suspended and the remaining phases [in West Bengal] be clubbed into one.

A person familiar with the matter said, “Every state is different. The EC has already effectively suspended campaigning for the eighth phase. And today is the last day for campaigning for the sixth phase. EC will hear from officials in the state.”

The last three phases of the polls are scheduled for April 22, April 26, and April 29 respectively.

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