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Omicron scare unlikely to push EC to postpone poll, ban rallies

The Election Commission of India held a ‘stocktaking’ meeting with the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on December 27.

December 28, 2021 / 09:57 AM IST
The Election Commission has asked the government to expedite the COVID-19 vaccination programme in five poll-bound states. (Representative image)

The Election Commission has asked the government to expedite the COVID-19 vaccination programme in five poll-bound states. (Representative image)

The Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur may be held in time as the Election Commission of India (ECI) is unlikely to postpone it amid the fears of rising cases of Omicron variant of novel coronavirus infection.

The poll body is also unlikely to put a blanket ban on election rallies, but it may enforce a stronger COVID-19 measures depending upon the pandemic situation and the spread of the omicron variant in the country, reported The Economic Times citing sources.

The ECI held a ‘stocktaking’ meeting with the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on December 27. In the meeting Bhushan briefed the poll panel for nearly an hour on the COVID-19 situation in the country, especially in five poll-bound states. The issue of spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was also discussed. The commission assessed the situation based on statistics provided by the health ministry, a functionary told news agency PTI.

The poll panel also asked the government to expedite the COVID-19 vaccination programme in five poll-bound states, amid indications that polling may be held in time.

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During its meeting with Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, the commission noted that the percentage of those administered the first dose of coronavirus vaccine was still less in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur, while it was nearing 100 percent in Uttarakhand and Goa. The poll panel also asked the top health official to expedite administering of a second dose to those eligible in these five states, highly-placed sources told the news agency.

The meetings came a few days after an Allahabad High Court bench of Justice Shekhar Yadav urged the government and the poll panel to consider postponing the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections for a month or two and banning all political rallies amid the fears of an impending third wave of COVID-19.

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The EC is expected to announce election dates in January. On December 28, the chief election commissioner (CEC) and fellow election commissioners are scheduled to visit Uttar Pradesh to take stock of the poll preparedness in the state. The commission has already visited Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand as part of its pre-poll stock-taking exercise.
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