The Election Commission of India is unlikely to postpone the state polls due early next year, sources said. The health Secretary on Monday briefed the Commission about the Omicron threat in the country specially in the poll bound states.
The commission has asked the government to vaccinate all those on election duty ahead of the polls. Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan submitted a report to the commission according to which the assembly polls in Manipur, Goa, Punjab, Uttarakhand and UP are likely to be held at the scheduled time as mandated by the Constitution. The assembly tenure of UP is due to end in May.
Former CEC S.Y. Qureshi told IANS, “postponement of elections is out of question and it will be violation of the Constitution and the Commission will take into account all the factors while it may ban rallies.”
A source with the ministry said that the Election Commission and Union Health Ministry discussed the rising number of cases of new Covid variant Omicron across the country with special attention on the states going to polls. Rajesh Bhushan presented a detailed report on the transmissibility of Omicron to the Election Commission.
According to a source, on being asked about the Omicron spread in the next three months, the Union Health Secretary said that this time nothing can be said exactly at the moment. The daily Covid caseload can see around 25 per cent jump in next few months as per the present rate of infections, he said in the meeting. The health officials also detailed the districts where R value has increased, said the source.
The assembly elections are scheduled for five states – Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Punjab in 2022. The dates could be announced in the first week of January, said the source. The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and other officials are scheduled to visit Uttar Pradesh to take stock of the poll preparedness on Tuesday.