Amid the rising coronavirus cases across the country, senior Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O’Brien on Sunday night informed that party supremo Mamata Banerjee will not campaign in Kolkata anymore for the 8-phase assembly elections in West Bengal.
O’Brien, in a Tweet, also said that Banerjee will only hold a “symbolic” meeting in Kolkata on the last day of campaigning on April 26.
“Mamata Banerjee will NOT campaign in Kolkata anymore. Only one ‘symbolic’ meeting on the last day of campaigning in the city on April 26. Slashes time for all her election rallies in all districts. Restricted to just 30 minutes,” he Tweeted.
Like several other states and union territories (UTs), West Bengal has been witnessing an alarming spike in coronavirus cases. The state had on Sunday reported more than 8,400 COVID-19 cases, the highest-ever single-day spike since the outbreak of the pandemic, pushing West Bengal’s total caseload to 6.59 lakh
Amid the alarming surge, the TMC has regularly urged the election commission to club the remaining phases of the polls to “protect people from further exposure to Covid-19”.
“Amid an ongoing pandemic, we firmly opposed EC’s decision to conduct WB polls in 8 phases.Now, in view of the huge surge in COVID-19 cases, I urge the ECI to consider holding the remaining phases in ONE go,” Banerjee had said last week.
Looking at the situation, the EC has banned all kinds of rallies and public meetings from 7 pm to 10 am in West Bengal and extended the silence period from 48 hours to 72 hours for each of the remaining three phases. During the silence period, parties and candidates cannot hold rallies and meetings.
“Silence period for rallies, public meetings, street plays, nukkad sabhas, bike rallies or any gathering for campaigning purposes shall be extended to 72 hours before the end of the poll for Phase 6, Phase 7 and Phase 8 in the state of West Bengal,” the Election Commission order said.
“Thereby, for these phases, campaign shall end at 6.30 PM on April 19; on April 23; and on April 26 respectively,” it added