After holding an all-party meeting on Friday, the Election Commission announced that there would be no clubbing of the remaining phases of the West Bengal Elections. The EC also confirmed that the WB elections will be held as planned, following all necessary COVID-19 protocols in the wake of rising infections.
"We suggested covid protocols to be followed. Election dates were not an issue. Some wanted to discuss dates but we didn't have any discussions on it. Dates will be as per the earlier schedule. No changes in dates," said the EC after the meeting.
The all-party meeting was called by the chief electoral officer of West Bengal on Friday. The meeting was convened to ensure that the COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Election Commission are adhered to by political leaders during campaigning. This came after several star campaigners and leaders were captured without masks across party lines holding massive rallies amid the escalating Coronavirus crisis.
Speaking to the media after the meeting the BJP expressed its agreement with the EC's decision. "We thanked EC for how they managed elections. We agreed with COVID election protocols. We suggested no requirement on clubbing of phases," said BJP's Swapan Dasgupta.
Yesterday West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had urged the apex poll body to conduct the remaining Bengal election phases in one go to protect people from further exposure. She had also claimed that PM Modi and Amit Shah were responsible for 'spreading COVID in Bengal'.
As the country continues to battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, West Bengal added 5,892 new cases in the last 24-hours taking the total tally in the state to 6,30,116 positive cases, out of which 5,87,037 have recovered, while 10,458 have died. As of now, the total number of active cases in the state is 32,621.
West Bengal has successfully held 4 phases of polling witnessing occasional and sporadic incidents of violence. The voter turnout for the seats that went to the polls in the first, second, third, and fourth phases was 84.63 percent, 86.11 percent, 84.61 percent and 79.90 percent respectively. The polling for the remaining phases will take place on April 17, April 22, April 26, and April 29. The election results will be declared on May 2.