EC on TMC’s Request Amid Covid

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The Election Commission on Wednesday told the Trinamool Congress that its suggestion to club the remaining three phases of West Bengal assembly polls was not implementable.

In a letter to the Trinamool Congress, the poll panel cited election law and various steps it has taken to ensure safety of voters in view of the coronavirus pandemic to rule out any change in the poll schedule for the state.

While phase six of the West Bengal polls is scheduled on April 22, the seventh and eighth phases are on April 26 and 29.

The TMC, which had been seeking a merger of the last three phases of assembly elections, had shot off a letter to Chief Electoral Officer Aariz Aftab on Tuesday, urging him to consider the party’s request amid the steep hike in COVID-19 cases. Chief Minister and party supremo Mamata Banerjee, during her rallies on Monday, had also implored the Election Commission to re-think its decision to stick to the original poll schedule.

The letter, undersigned by TMC leaders Derek O Brien, Sukendu Sekhar Roy, Pratima Mondol, and Purnendu Bose, highlighted the High Court order that directed the CEO to take urgent measures to avert a “deadly disaster that is staring at our faces” and said that “no prejudice would be caused if the three phases are clubbed into one”. It further said that the steps taken by the EC to curb the spread of the disease such as curtailment of campaign hours are “cosmetic” as the critical human resource will continue to remain engaged on election duty.

“Two equally important issues are at stake: the right to life and public health and the right to hold elections. It is pertinent to note that the Constitution of India has empowered the Election Commission of India to make this choice,” the letter added.

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