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Assembly Elections 2021 Live Updates: EC says all Covid norms were not followed during poll campaigns in Bengal

West Bengal Elections 2021 Live Updates: Earlier on Saturday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the three special observers of the Election Commission were ordering police officers to detain TMC workers during the polling hours, asserting that she would move the Supreme Court against such a "conspiracy" after the elections.

By: Express Web Desk | Kolkata, New Delhi |
Updated: April 25, 2021 10:22:43 am
Bengal pollsEC noted with concern that during public campaigns for electioneering, the enforcement under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 has been less than adequate. (Express file photo/Partha Paul)

West Bengal Elections 2021 Live Updates: The Election Commission on Saturday noted with concern that the enforcement of Covid-appropriate behaviour under the Disaster Management Act during campaigning in West Bengal has been “less than adequate”. It also said that the body tasked with the enforcement of Covid-19 guidelines needs to step up its assigned duty.

The issues were flagged at a meeting held by Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar with top state government officials to review enforcement of COVID guidelines during campaigning in West Bengal where two remaining phases of assembly elections are to take place next week.

Earlier on Saturday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the three special observers of the Election Commission were ordering police officers to detain TMC workers during the polling hours, asserting that she would move the Supreme Court against such a “conspiracy” after the elections.

Addressing party members at the Gitanjali auditorium in Bolpur in Birbhum district, Banerjee said that she can’t be silenced even if she is show-caused. “Enough is enough. I don’t have any issue if they (EC observers) are working for free and fair elections but they have been working only to help the BJP. They want to finish off Trinamool,” the chief minister alleged.

Live Blog

EC special observers asking cops to to detain TMC workers during the polling hours, alleges Mamata; EC lodges FIR against 13 candidates, show-causes 33 for Covid violations. Follow this space for more latest updates.

20:50 (IST)24 Apr 2021
'Outsider' barb not aimed at Hindi-speaking people, they're integral part of Bengal: TMC leader Vivek Gupta

Amid the raging ‘insider-outsider’ debate in poll-bound West Bengal, TMC's Hindi cell president and senior leader Vivek Gupta asserted that the 'outsider' barb is not directed at the Hindi-speaking residents as they happen to be an integral part of the state.

Gupta, a former Rajya Sabha MP, also clarified that the TMC has branded "goons coming from other states" as outsider or 'Bohiragato', and the party, during its campaigns, never targeted the non-Bengali population of the state.

In an interview with PTI, Gupta, the ruling party candidate from Joransanko seat, said the "Hindi-speaking population residing in Bengal adds sweetness" to the state's rich culture and heritage.

"Our party is not against the Hindi-speaking population residing in Bengal. This term 'outsider' is aimed at goons and history-sheeters, who are entering Bengal from other states to disturb the law and order situation. The state's Hindi-speaking population and the Bengalis complement each other well," he said.

He added, "Bengal is known for its sweet dishes. The Hindi-speaking population residing here for decades and generations are the sweetener that further sweetens this sweet dish that is Bengal. They are very much a part of this state, and the TMC has never questioned it.”

"The BJP is trying to create a rift based on religion and language. This is what they do everywhere. In Bengal, this divide-and-rule policy won't yield any result," he said. (PTI)

19:41 (IST)24 Apr 2021
JP Nadda to hold all rallies virtually

BJP national president JP Nadda to hold all rallies virtually, keeping in mind Covid-19 protocols. (ANI)

19:22 (IST)24 Apr 2021
Bengal polls: EC says enforcement of COVID-appropriate behaviour 'less than adequate', asks SDMA to step up action

The Election Commission on Saturday noted with concern that the enforcement of COVID-appropriate behaviour under the Disaster Management Act during campaigning in West Bengal has been "less than adequate".

It also said that the body tasked with the enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines needs to step up its assigned duty.

The issues were flagged at a meeting held by Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar with top state government officials to review enforcement of COVID guidelines during campaigning in West Bengal where two remaining phases of assembly elections are to take place next week.

The seventh and the last phase of polls will take place on April 26 and 29, respectively.

"The Commission noted with concern that during public campaigns for electioneering, the enforcement under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 has been less than adequate," a statement issued by the poll panel said.

The meeting was held just a couple of days after the poll panel placed a ban on roadshows and 'pad yatras' and placed a cap on the number of persons attending public meetings to 500. (PTI)

18:36 (IST)24 Apr 2021
Mithun, Dilip Ghosh violated COVID-19 protocols, complaint filed: TMC leader

The TMC claimed on Saturday that BJP leaders Dilip Ghosh and actor Mithun Chakraborty have violated COVID-19 protocols by organising public meetings that were attended by more than 500 people, and said a complaint has been filed with the EC in the matter.

Senior TMC leader Saugata Roy told reporters here that Ghosh, the state BJP president, and Chakraborty, an actor-turned-politician, held public meetings at Dakshin Dinajpur and Malda districts respectively, with little or no regard for directions given by the EC amid the COVID-19 surge.

"We have sought strict action against the two. They should be barred from holding public meetings for the last phase of elections," he said.

Roy, however, rued the fact that the poll panel hasn't taken any action so far.

"The EC is acting at the behest of the BJP. No action has been taken yet against the two BJP leaders, despite the complaints lodged by the TMC on Friday and this morning," the Lok Sabha MP said. (PTI)

18:33 (IST)24 Apr 2021
Former Lt. Gen. Subrata Saha forays into politics to continue life in public service

Fondly called the ‘People's General’ for his humanitarian work in Kashmir valley, former deputy chief of army staff, Lieutenant General Subrata Saha (Retd.), who is contesting as BJPs candidate for Rashbehari assembly constituency felt his foray into politics would be a continuation of his life in public service.

Saha, a member of National Security Advisory Board, also said his desire to serve Bengal has driven his entry into politics.

"For me, this is continuation of public service, 40 years of my life I have given to serving the nation through the Army, the former General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Srinagar-based 15 (Chinar) Corps, said.

Saha has been credited with undertaking several initiatives which earned him thanks from the Kashmiri people, including relief and rescue operations during a devastating flood in the Srinagar valley in September, 2014.

"Even if you are on the borders, actually you are doing public service," Saha, who retired as Deputy Chief of Army Staff, told PTI.

"When I go around meeting people here, there are so many people who tell me with a lot of love and affection, that it is because of people like you that we are able to sleep securely in our homes," he said.

The founding director general of Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers, Saha said he had simply changed his platform for doing public service, from the Army to politics.

Asked why he chose BJP to enter the political arena, he said a desire to do something for Bengal was always there within him and the saffron party offered him an opportunity to fulfil that desire. (PTI)

17:34 (IST)24 Apr 2021
CPI(M) leader, who defeated Mamata Banerjee 32 years ago, blames TMC supremo for rise of RSS in Bengal

Former CPI(M) MP Prof. Malini Bhattacharya, who had handed chief minister Mamata Banerjee, then a Congress candidate in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections from Jadavpur seat, her sole electoral defeat, does not feel the Trinamool Congress supremo is the face of the resistance to BJP, and believes her rule facilitated the rise of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the state.

Bhattacharya, a leading academic, maintains Banerjee retains "close relations with the RSS even today while indulging in slanging matches with the BJP leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

Disagreeing that there is any pro-BJP wave in West Bengal, the former academic, blames the rise of the saffron party primarily due to anti-incumbency against the TMC.

Bhattacharya was fielded by CPI(M) in 1989 against Banerjee who had in the previous general election burst on the political scene by emerging as a giant slayer by defeating prominent CPI(M) leader Somenath Chatterjee from Jadavpur, considered a Communist bastion for long. (PTI)

16:28 (IST)24 Apr 2021
EC observers ordering detention of TMC workers during polling hours: Mamata Banerjee

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday alleged that the three special observers of the Election Commission were ordering police officers to detain TMC workers during the polling hours, asserting that she would move the Supreme Court against such a "conspiracy" after the elections.

Addressing party members at the Gitanjali auditorium in Bolpur in Birbhum district, Banerjee said that she can't be silenced even if she is show-caused.

"Enough is enough. I don't have any issue if they (EC observers) are working for free and fair elections but they have been working only to help the BJP. They want to finish off Trinamool," the chief minister alleged.

"These officials are giving orders to detain our men on the night before the polls and keep them in custody till 4 pm. This WhatsApp conversation has been given to me by people in BJP," she said, showing the transcript of a purported chat between the special observers with DMs and SPs.

Banerjee said that her party, TMC, will not take this lying down and move the Supreme Court against such a "conspiracy and partisan approach" after the elections.

"However, these three retired people won't be able to influence the elections. Their partisan conduct will help BJP win only seven-eight seats. I personally don't believe BJP will cross the 70-mark," she claimed. (PTI)

16:25 (IST)24 Apr 2021
Arrangements should be made to inform voters of Covid safety measures: EC

EC directs that effective communication strategies must be put in place to inform voters about Covid-safe environment.

While appreciating the good work done in last six phases in ensuring Covid safety arrangements at the polling stations, EC directed that regular monitoring of Covid-compliant behaviour and action against the violations must be done by the authority.

The Election Commission, led by CEC Sushil Chandra and Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, today held a meeting with senior officers of West Bengal, including Chief Secretary, ACS(Home), Secretary (Disaster Management), Secretary (Health), DGP, CP Kolkata. The Chief Electoral Officer of West Bengal was also present. (ANI)

15:27 (IST)24 Apr 2021
EC top brass reviews enforcement of COVID guidelines during campaigning in Bengal

Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar on Saturday reviewed enforcement of COVID guidelines during campaigning in West Bengal where two remaining phases of assembly elections are to take place next week.

A poll panel spokesperson said the EC top brass reviewed the enforcement of COVID guidelines with West Bengal chief secretary, police chief, health secretary and Kolkata police commissioner.

The CEC directed them to ensure strict action under state and national disaster management laws for COVID-complaint behaviour.

The meet comes a couple of days after the poll panel placed a ban on roadshows and foot marches, and placed a cap on the number of persons attending public meetings to 500.

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday had expressed dissatisfaction with the ECI over enforcement of COVID-19 health safety norms during the ongoing West Bengal assembly election process, including campaigning. (PTI)

10:08 (IST)24 Apr 2021
COVID norm violation: ECI lodges FIR against 13 candidates, showcauses 33

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has till Friday lodged FIRs against 13 candidates for allegedly violating COVID-19 safety protocols and issued show-cause notices to 33 others contesting the West Bengal assembly elections in the remaining seventh and eighth phases for the same reason, an official said.

The full bench of the ECI directed officials during a virtual meeting to continue "strictly dealing" with candidates violating the COVID-19 safety protocols, he said. "A show-cause notice is first sent to a candidate for alleged violation of coronavirus protocols. If the officials are not satisfied with the reply of the notice, they must lodge an FIR. The officials must also send a compliance report to the Commission," he said. (PTI)

10:08 (IST)24 Apr 2021
ECI COVID restrictions must be implemented: Calcutta HC

The Calcutta High Court on Friday directed the competent authorities to make the people of West Bengal abide by the restrictions imposed by the Election Commission of India on public behaviour regarding protective protocol for Covid-19 in the state which has witnessed an alarming rise in infections.

Hearing PILs with regard to maintenance of Covid protocol during the ongoing assembly elections in the state in view of the recent surge in infections, the court directed the authorities to enforce masking, social distancing etc.

"Any restrictive governance imposed by the Election Commission of India as regards public behaviour as regards the protective protocol in relation to Covid management shall be strictly followed and abided by the people," a division bench comprising Chief Justice T B N Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee directed. (PTI)

10:02 (IST)24 Apr 2021
Hello and welcome back to our election LIVE blog!

Hello and welcome back to our election LIVE blog! Follow this space for the latest updates on the West Bengal Assembly election. 

17:56 (IST)23 Apr 2021
Will set up fast-track courts across Bengal to provide speedy justice to women: Modi

"Will set up fast-track courts across Bengal for providing speedy justice to women," PM Modi said.

17:42 (IST)23 Apr 2021
llegal immigration, syndicates, extortion hurdles to West Bengal's development: Modi

In his virtual addres, PM Modi also remarked that illegal immigration, syndicates, extortion are the hurdles West Bengal's development. "Will use technology to transform Kolkata, the city of joy, to city of future," PM Modi said. 

17:34 (IST)23 Apr 2021
Bengal yearns for peace, security and development: PM Modi

Bengal yearns for peace, security and development, says PM Narendra Modi at virtual rally in West Bengal.

17:27 (IST)23 Apr 2021
People of Bengal want dignity of labour, ease of living: PM Modi

People of Bengal want dignity of labour, ease of living, ease of doing business, says PM Modi in his virtual address

13:09 (IST)23 Apr 2021
Cong takes dig at EC over restrictions announced on poll campaigning in West Bengal

After the Election Commission (EC) imposed strict restrictions on holding public rallies and poll campaigning in West Bengal, the Congress said the direction has come late as the Assembly elections in four states and a Union Territory are almost over. "Ha! Ha! Ha!. What a strong direction by ECI after elections are over in 4 States and nearly over in the fifth State," Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala wrote on Twitter.

10:50 (IST)23 Apr 2021
Calcutta High Court expresses dissatisfaction with EC on implementation of Covid norms

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday expressed dissatisfaction with the Election Commission of India over enforcement of Covid-19 health safety norms during the ongoing West Bengal assembly election process, including campaigning. 

“We are not satisfied with the materials on record to state that the Election Commission of India and its officers on ground in West Bengal have enforced their circulars,” it said.

10:33 (IST)23 Apr 2021
Illegal immigrants actual outsiders in Bengal, vote bank for Mamata: Amit Shah

Home Minister Amit Shah Thursday sought to punch a hole in West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s oft-repeated insider-outsider narative, alleging that her “vote bank of illegal immigrants”, on whose support she wants to rule the state, were the actual outsiders.

Shah also accused Banerjee of having no other agenda apart from hurling abuses at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and him.

“She dedicates 10 minutes of her speech in every election rally to abusing the PM and myself… I am the country’s home minister, can’t I talk to people? How am I an outsider?” he said at a public meeting in Harirampur constituency in Dakshin Dinajpur district, which goes to polls in the seventh phase on April 26.

Mamata Banerjee West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee during an election campaign at Habibpur, Malda.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) till Friday lodged FIRs against 13 candidates for allegedly violating COVID-19 safety protocols and issued show-cause notices to 33 others contesting the West Bengal assembly elections in the remaining seventh and eighth phases for the same reason, an official said. "A show-cause notice is first sent to a candidate for alleged violation of coronavirus protocols. If the officials are not satisfied with the reply of the notice, they must lodge an FIR. The officials must also send a compliance report to the Commission," the official told PTI.

Yesterday was the final day of campaigning for the state's 34 assembly seats, which are scheduled to go to the poll on April 26 in the seventh phase of election being held amidst the surge in coronavirus cases across the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said Bengal yearns for peace, security and development. The Prime Minister, who cancelled his Bengal visit to hold crucial meetings on Covid-19 situation in the country, said in his virtual address: "People of Bengal want dignity of labour, ease of living, ease of doing business."

Bengal polls roll on, CM Mamata holds 4 meets, Amit Shah one

WITH ITS load of active cases at more than 68,000, a record daily high on Thursday, and a new Covid-19 mutant traced to the state, West Bengal’s election process dragged on Thursday for the two remaining phases, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee holding four public meetings and Union Home Minister Amit Shah one rally before cancelling the next two at the last minute.

There were around 5,000 people at each of Banerjee’s four rallies — at Tapan in Dakshin Dinajpur; Asansol in West Burdwan; and Habibpur and Ratua in Malda districts. Masks were worn by few, with the numbers making social distancing virtually impossible.

Shah’s sole public meeting, in Dakshin Dinajpur, had at least double the BJP’s promised limit of 500 for such meetings. Again masks were rare.

Bengal: As they queue up to vote, Covid woes on their lips

Waiting for her turn to vote in the violence-hit Titagarh town of West Bengal, Gauri Kumari like everyone else outside a polling booth was wearing masks. Though the town has seen regular gang wars, bomb blasts and political murders ahead of the Assembly elections, her mind is shrouded by the surging Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am not bothered who wins in this election because every political party is the same. My mother Saraswati Devi is above 60 years old. We took her for (Covid) vaccination on April 14, but were told to come back some other day as there was no vaccine. Since then, there has been no communication. There was a shortage of vaccine and only the first 100 people were given the dose,” said Gauri.

 

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