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Inexplicable EC relaxation on hall meetings for polls

The questionable reading of the Covid situation came from the Election Commission, which retained its ban on poll mobilisation in most forms but allowed restricted hall meetings.

Published: 17th January 2022 07:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th January 2022 07:44 AM   |  A+A-

Election Commission of India

Election Commission of India (File Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

Afew clear messages and a muddled one emerged last week in the context of the upcoming elections to five states. Yogi Adityanath entered the Assembly election fray for the first time from the safest of seats in Gorakhpur, giving himself ample time to campaign extensively elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh. Though the mystery over his angling for the Ayodhya seat continues, Adityanath’s X factor enthuses and worries the Big Two in the party in equal measure. If he does retain power, he would become the only UP chief minister in 35 years to get consecutive terms. And by giving close to 60% seats in UP to OBCs and Dalits, the BJP showed intent to arrest the bleeding of backward leadership in its ranks last week. 

As for Akhilesh, he drew the BJP defectors. But giving them tickets at the expense of party aspirants or allies is not going to be easy. He has already broken off negotiations with Dalit neta Chandra Shekhar Aazad. This will be a closely fought election with slender margins of victory in various places. Aazad’s ability to transfer pockets of votes could have given the SP a significant edge. In the Congress camp, after releasing a pink manifesto, Priyanka walked her talk by giving 40% seats to women in the first list, including to the mother of the Unnao rape survivor. The Congress in Punjab went largely with state unit president Navjot Singh Sidhu’s choice of candidates, giving him little opportunity to crib. Where it would leave CM Charanjit Singh Channi, the new Dalit mascot of the party, remains to be seen. Channi regretting the controversial security breach during PM Narendra Modi’s Punjab visit after rubbishing it initially is set to become a major poll plank. Also, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal did a jumla by crowdsourcing ideas for his party’s chief ministerial face in Punjab.

The questionable reading of the Covid situation came from the Election Commission, which retained its ban on poll mobilisation in most forms but allowed restricted hall meetings. How would meetings within an enclosure be safer than, say, spaced-out cycle or bike rallies? Surely common sense cannot be given a pass to celebrate the festival of democracy.



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