Noting that COVID safety norms were being flouted in West Bengal during campaigning, the Election Commission on Thursday banned road shows and vehicle rallies in the state with immediate effect and said no public meeting having more than 500 people would be allowed.
The order said the Commission has noted “with anguish” that many political parties and candidates are still not adhering to the prescribed safety norms during the public gatherings. The orders will come into force from 7 pm on Thursday.
The poll panel’s announcement came hours after the Calcutta High Court expressed disappointment at the way elections had been conducted so far. The court said it was “unable to reconcile with the fact” that the Election Commission had failed to take any steps beyond “issuing curriculars” to tackle the surge of coronavirus infections in West Bengal. It reminded the poll panel that its duties go beyond “issuing circulars and holding meetings by themselves” when facing the “heightened challenge of Covid-19 virus and its variants”.