Prime minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee have cancelled all their pre-scheduled rallies in the state for the final two phases of polling, both of them announced on Thursday when the state underwent the sixth phase of polling.
This decision came at a time when the number of Covid-19 cases is rising sharply in the state. After reporting 10,784 cases on Wednesday, the state on Thursday logged 11,948 new cases of Covid-19. The number of persons testing positive is increasing with each passing day.
The Election Commission of India (ECI), too, has issued new guidelines, allowing up to 500 persons in campaigns. It has also banned rallies and roadshows.
On Thursday, Modi announced in a tweet that he was cancelling his scheduled rallies in West Bengal on Friday to chair an urgent meeting in New Delhi on the pandemic management. He had three public meetings scheduled. A few hours later, Banerjee, too, announced cancellation of all her programmes scheduled in the coming days.
Tomorrow, will be chairing high-level meetings to review the prevailing COVID-19 situation. Due to that, I would not be going to West Bengal.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 22, 2021
“In the wake of upsurge in #COVID19 cases across the country and the ECI Order dated 22nd April, 2021, I am cancelling all my prescheduled meetings and we will reach out to the people virtually. We will be sharing the updated schedule of the virtual meetings shortly,” Banerjee wrote in a tweet on Thursday night.
In the wake of upsurge in #COVID19 cases across the country and the ECI Order dated 22nd April, 2021, I am cancelling all my prescheduled meetings and we will reach out to the people virtually.— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) April 22, 2021
We will be sharing the updated schedule of the virtual meetings shortly.
Banerjee had three rallies scheduled on Friday.
Meanwhile, the ECI in its Thursday order said that no roadshow, foot rally, bicycle, motorcycle or car rally will be permissible and gathering of only up to 500 persons could be allowed given that the venue had adequate space for the gathering to maintain social distancing.
Speaking on the situation, the BJP’s state unit president Dilip Ghosh said that Modi will be addressing the people of Bengal virtually at 5 pm on April 23.
43 constituencies in four districts, where voting was conducted on Thursday, recorded 79.11% polling till 6 pm.
The last two phases of the elections are due on April 26 and 29. The elections started on March 27. The results will be announced on May 2.
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