The political campaign continues to intensify in West Bengal for the 114 seats that will go for the polling in the coming three phases, even as the graph of Covid-19 infection keeps steadily increasing.
On Tuesday, the state recorded 9,819 new cases of Covid-19 infection and 46 cases of death. This was the highest single-day spike since March last year. These 9,819 persons were among the 50,044 persons who were tested. This meant, nearly one in every five people tested was being reported positive.
The situation was worst in Kolkata and its neighbouring district of North 24-Parganas, reporting 2,234 and 1,092 cases, respectively, in the past 24 hours. Nearly half of the North 24-Parganas district, the state’s largest, will vote on Thursday during the sixth phase election.
While chief minister Mamata Banerjee has repeatedly urged the election commission of India to club the three remaining phases into one, the proposal was turned down after the BJP and the CPI(M) objected to it.
Since then, all parties have been continuing with their campaigns, organising gatherings of hundreds of people, and often thousands.
However, on April 19, Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury cited the example of the death of two candidates in the Murshidabad district and urged the election commission to postpone the polling.
“We should take note as to which is most important, the lives of the people or the election of people’s representatives!” he wrote in a letter to the chief election commissioner and urged him to conduct the elections after the end of the month of Ramzan and after the situation comes under control. He announced that irrespective of the commission’s decision, he will take part in no more rallies.
His appeal did not affect other political parties.
The CPI(M) had earlier announced that they would no longer hold any mega rallies but their ‘small gatherings’ too drew several hundred people. Mamata Banerjee has decided to cut her speeches short and hold only one big rally in Kolkata but has no plan to reduce the intensity of the campaign. The BJP has said that there would not be any change in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign schedule.
“Modi-Ji is scheduled to address four more rallies. All of them will happen. We are trying to see if they can all be organised on a single day,” said a senior leader of the BJP’s state unit.
Other union ministers are also scheduled to address rallies in the state.
On April 20, the BJP’s state unit president Dilip Ghosh led roadshows in Burdwan and Domkal of Murshidabad district and Rashbehari, Bhawanipur and Ballugunje in Kolkata. Mamata Banerjee addressed one rally for Farakka and Samsherganj assembly seats, one for Sagardighi and Nabagram, and another for Murshidabad and Bhagabangola seats, all in Murshidabad district.
The three remaining phases of the election will be held on April 22, 26 and 29. The results will be announced on May 2.
The districts where elections are still due to include Kolkata, the state’s worst Covid-19 district.