BENGALURU: Along with taking basic precautionary measures, like wearing masks, gloves and drinking hot water, candidates contesting the bypolls and Legislative Council elections are getting themselves tested for Covid regularly to ensure the safety of their own and their fellow campaigners.Though the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has issued guidelines for the electorate during elections, there are no specific norms for candidates, who are at high risk.
Ramesh Babu, a Congress candidate contesting the Council election from the South East Graduates’ Constituency, said, “As candidates, we have to interact with a lot of people and seek votes. We have still not reached a stage where virtual campaigning can be held, and personal connect is the only option. Since the graduate constituencies are far bigger than Assembly constituencies, I also need to travel a lot.”
A senior Congress leader, requesting anonymity, said that since the elections are fought hard, candidates cannot avoid meeting their electorate. “People come to take photo with us or garland us. We need every individual vote, and if we stop them, we may lose their support,” he said.
Ammajamma, the JDS candidate for the Sira Assembly constituency, has tested positive and has been admitted to hospital. “Candidates from all other parties, who are doing rigorous campaigning, are getting tested once in two days or three days. Candidates cannot come out in the open and say that they are getting tested, as it could raise a suspicion among people that the candidates could be infected. This is a very sensitive issue,’’ BJP sources said. Candidates are getting tested regularly as they could become superspreaders.
But it is not mandatory to get Covid tests done once in two days, said Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar. He said that no guidelines have been issued by either the MHA or Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority. “We have referred this to the state authority. They will deliberate and issue guidelines,’’ he added.