The surge in COVID – 19 cases squarely rest on Opposition parties Congress, Left, RJD & others for not accepting Election Commission of India proposal to shift towards digital campaigning in Bihar Elections.
India overwhelmed by the the double / triple mutant of Wuhan Virus and numbers escalated astronomically post the polling days in all five states of Tamilnadu, West Bengal, Pondycherry, Kerala, Assam.
According to data, post election shows massive spike in cases. In West Bengal cases Jumped from low of 400 in March to around 30000 new cases during peak in May.Similarly cases in Tamilnadu rose from 474 on March 1 to around 30000 in May. The surge in Kerala spiked from 992 in March to high of 42464 in May. In Assam the upward trajectory of new cases rose from 19 cases to March to around 6000 cases in May. In Pondycherry the cases spiked from 18 to around 1800 in May. The Election rallies and mass congregation were instrumental in the steepest spikes in the respective states. All this happened due to poor planning, politics & judgement of parties involved in electoral process.
The heart wrenching scenes outside hospitals, the clamour for oxygen, desperate calls seeking emergency ICU beds, mass funeral pyres across the country could have been avoided, had the political parties accepted the proposal of Election Commission of India for virtual rallies due to Wuhan Virus related social distancing norms. The Election Commission had sought to implement these measures following successful completion of electoral process in Taiwan & South Korea.
However the political parties in India and principal opposition party Congress, Left, BSP, NCP, RJD, RLSP rejected the recommendation arguing the concept was socially & economically discriminatory. They further added that the proposal is against “principle of equality” and “violative of a level playing field in the democratic exercise” as virtual campaigns could exclude a large section of the rural people and the poor who have no access to digital connectivity.
“It will be a travesty of unparalleled proportion to officially legitimise a mode of election campaign which is not only severely limiting by its reach but exclusionary by design,” the Opposition parties’ memorandum said.
On the contrary facts reveal that Bihar has 6.21 crore mobile phone users and 3.9 crore Internet users as on August 2020.The population of third largest state in India is around 10 crore with around 7.14 crore eligible voters. Around 8,743 panchayats in Bihar have been connected with the high-speed broadband network under BharatNet
The above data exposes the hollowness in opposition claims that Election Commission of India had proposed the virtual rallies to exclude & limit large population from the electoral process. The ruling Bharatiya Janta Party & its ally JDU supported the move of Election Commission to hold digital mode of campaigning.
And the state of the health care in the country was never prepared for the surge in Pandemic. And knowing the facts the political parties along with leaders of all political parties had held mass rallies of congregation of people to put the lives of people in states at risk. The Madras High Court censured the Election Commission of India and held it singularly responsible for the second wave of pandemic surge in the country. The court observed that the Election Commission of India failed to stop rallies of political rallies flouting COVID-19 protocol of social distancing. The court came down on the Election Commission and stated that officers should be booked for murder charges.
The Election Commission of India is responsible for conducting of Elections in India and the independent constitutional body would have recorded inputs from health care experts and postponed elections to later date, unless the situation returns to normalcy or the political parties reach consensus on proposal of the body for conducting virtual campaigns. The virus is invisible, secular and it affects supporters, candidates, leaders & officials alike. The surge is due to failure of the system and the larger responsibility lies with Opposition parties who had scuttled innovative efforts of the Election Commission to adopt virtual & digital campaigning. And the Election Commission of India should have acted sternly postponing the elections to later date.
The Congress has decided to defer organizational elections for electing a new party chief due to Wuhan Virus crisis. And it look likes the general consensus is evolving in the country to put elections on hold for the time being. In future the Election Commission should act stern and go ahead with proposals it considers important for public safety, health and putting the electoral process of all forms in abeyance for the time being.