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Bengal BJP MLA among 5 held for ‘flouting’ campaign Covid norms

🔴 West Bengal on Sunday reported almost a four-fold weekly rise in fresh Covid cases. As many as 24,287 fresh infections were witnessed at a positivity rate of 33.89 per cent in the last 24 hours.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
Updated: January 10, 2022 6:04:21 am
Biman Ghosh campaigning for Chandannagar Ward no. 26 candidate. (Photo: Twitter @BimanGhoshBJP)

Hooghly’s Pursura MLA Biman Bose and four other BJP leaders were arrested on Sunday for allegedly violating the State Election Commission’s (SEC) Covid-19 restrictions on campaigning for the January 22 civic polls. The five leaders were later released on bail.

West Bengal on Sunday reported almost a four-fold weekly rise in fresh Covid cases. As many as 24,287 fresh infections were witnessed at a positivity rate of 33.89 per cent in the last 24 hours.

According to police, Ghosh was leading a rally of about 100 people in favour of ward number 26 candidate Sandhya Das in Chandannagar. In view of rising Covid cases, the West Bengal SEC on Saturday prohibited campaigning by more than five people for the civic polls in Bidhannagar, Chandannagar, Asansol and Siliguri.

The BJP MLA, however, denied having violated the SEC guideline. “When the TMC campaigns with a large number of people, police do not take action. They only take action when the BJP takes out rallies. We were peacefully conducting our door-to-door campaigning. Now if some people join us (along the route), can they be counted as our members? We did not violate any rules or guidelines. There were only five party leaders for the campaign. Rest of them were local people,” said Ghosh.

“The state poll panel has no problem in holding the election when Covid-19 cases are rising. Gangasagar Mela can also take place in these times. But whenever the BJP goes out for campaigning, the problem arises,” said Ghosh.

TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee hit out at the BJP leaders for their “indiscipline”. “They are a party of nuisance makers and create chaos wherever they go. They are the master of breaking rules and guidelines. We will appeal to the Election Commission to take note of such things,” said Banerjee.

An SEC official on Saturday told The Indian Express that the panel was worried about the safety of voters. “We are very worried as Covid-19 cases are going up with every passing day. We are not only worried about the safety of voters but also the polling and police personnel who are key to holding the elections,” the official said.

The BJP, Left Front and TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee have favoured a ban on political rallies for the civic polls. Banerjee on Saturday said, “This is my personal opinion. But I think in this situation, all types of political and religious activities should be postponed… No political and religious gatherings in the interest of people till February.”

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