Battle For Bihar: Leaders ​F​lout C​OVID-19 Norms, Miffed EC ​T​akes ​N​ote

Visibly concerned at how netas and political parties have turned a blind eye to mandatory COVID-19 protocols in poll-bound Bihar, Election Commission (EC) has warned political parties of strict action if they don’t follow safety norms. In multiple rallies of different parties, social distancing and wearing masks had become the biggest casualty of late.

EC has instructed Bihar Chief Electoral officer and the district machinery to invoke appropriate penal provisions under Disaster Management Act against candidates violating guidelines.

The poll watchdog said, “Instances of such public meetings have come to notice of the Commission, where large numbers of crowds have assembled in utter violation of social distancing and the campaigners are addressing the gathering without wearing masks in complete disregard of the instructions issued by the Commission.”

Videos of political rallies were buzzing on social media where people were ignoring social distancing norms, and most didn’t even wear a mask. The guidelines for holding a physical rally mandate social distancing of at least two meters between the participants and all of them should be wearing masks.

Most of the rallies in Bihar are jam-packed with participants clustered together. CM Nitish Kumar campaigned at four places on Wednesday, and his supporters were seen violating  norms by not wearing protective gear. Videos of norms being flouted in Tejashwi yadav and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath’s rallies have also been widely shared.

Health experts have warned that violations of safety protocols at mass gatherings could result in a spike across the state. More than 1200 fresh cases have been reported in the state in the last 24 hours, with a maximum number of 308 cases being recorded in capital Patna alone.

The poll panel had earlier said, “It is the responsibility of all the political parties to ensure that they not only cooperate with the district machinery in following the due norms of public health safety but also instill a sense of discipline in the crowd.”

Bihar with 243 assembly seats will go to polls in three phases: October 28, November 3, and November 7. The results will be declared on November 10.

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