Amid Omicron scare, EC tells poll-bound states to boost vaccination
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has written a letter to the five poll-bound states to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination to tackle a surge in infections. The letter was reportedly written to the chief secretaries of the concerned states. In its letter, the EC has also expressed concern over the low percentage of first dose inoculation in poll-bound Manipur.
- State assembly elections are due in five states: Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
- This comes days after EC indicated that there would be no delay in conducting the upcoming assembly polls due to the COVID-19 situation in the country.
- Notably, concerns were raised over the upcoming elections as many fear poll campaigning activities can potentially turn into COVID-19 hotspots.
Reportedly, the states for the upcoming elections are likely to be announced in January. Regardless of the COVID-19 surge, the elections to the five states are expected to be held as per schedule, Times Now reported. Notably, the term of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly ends in May 2022. In the other four states, the assembly term will end in March.
Meanwhile, health experts and the All India Bar Association have requested the EC to defer the upcoming elections due to Omicron. Last month, the Allahabad High Court had urged the EC to postpone UP assembly polls by one to two months. It also urged EC to ban rallies and public meetings by political parties.
Last week, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra had said all political parties in UP favored holding the elections on time. However, Chandra assured the EC would ensure maintenance of COVID-19-appropriate behavior during the election campaigns and voting. Chandra also announced some measures to curb the spread of the virus. The EC would issue detailed guidelines once the election dates are announced, he had added.
Meanwhile, India on Monday added 175 new COVID-19 cases involving the Omicron variant. Maharashtra topped the list of worst-hit states with 510 total Omicron cases, followed by Delhi (351 cases). A total of 1,700 Omicron cases have been detected in 23 states and union territories. The worst-affected regions include Kerala (156), Gujarat (136), Tamil Nadu (121), Rajashthan (120), Telangana (67).