EC bans victory celebration on counting day; Double mutant variant found in 13 districts of Kerala
Following the polling in the four states and Union Territory, the Election Commission (EC) has announced a ban on victory celebrations on the counting day (May 2) as the country is witnessing a ferocious Covid-19 surge. The announcement comes a day after all political parties in Kerala mutually decided against celebration on counting day in the state.
“Given the surge in Covid-19 cases throughout the country, the Commission has decided to make more stringent provision to be followed during the process of counting, in addition to exiting Broad Guidelines dated August 21, 2020, and has directed that no victory procession after the counting on 2.5.2021 shall be permissible,” the EC said in an order.
The Commission added that not more than two persons shall be allowed to accompany the winning candidate or the authorised representative to receive the certificate of election from the Returning Officer concerned.
Four states and a Union Territory held Assembly elections, and the counting of votes is on May 2. Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry went to the polls on April 6, 2021. West Bengal and Assam went to the polls in March and April as they had a multi-phased election. Recently, the Madras High Court said that the EC is “singularly responsible” for the second Covid-19 wave in India. “Election Commission officers should be booked on murder charges probably,” Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee said.
Justice Banerjee rebuked the Election Commission for not ensuring Covid-19 norms during election rallies. When the EC’s lawyers told the Court that the Commission took measures to curb Covid-19 spread at election rallies, the Chief Justice replied, “Were you on another planet when political rallies were being held?”
Meanwhile, thirteen districts in Kerala have reported the presence of double-mutant variants of the coronavirus. According to reports, Kottayam has the highest presence of the B1 617 virus which is considered a double mutant. The mutant variant has been found in all districts except Pathanamthitta. Reportedly, the transmission of this variant has intensified.
Reports suggest that 40% of the samples collected in the first week of April confirmed that different variants with the potential for faster transmission. On Monday, Kerala reported 21,890 new Covid-19 cases and the Test Positivity Rate (TPR) is 22.71%. Meanwhile, India reported over three lakh cases for a record sixth day.