As Omicron sweeps through the country, driving an unprecedented surge in cases, poll strategist Prashant Kishor recommended what he called the “only safe way” to hold the five state elections due in February-March.
The Election Commission, which has yet to announce the election dates, was briefed by the centre yesterday on the status of Covid cases and vaccinations in the states- Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. It reportedly asked for stronger vaccination coverage in the states.
“EC MUST insist on two vaccine doses for at least 80% people in poll-bound states. This is the only SAFE way to hold elections in the midst of a raging pandemic. Rest everything is HOGWASH. The notion of guidelines for Covid appropriate behaviour, which no one follows, is FARCICAL,” Prashant Kishore tweeted.
EC MUST insist on 2 vaccine doses for at least 80% people in poll bound states.
— Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) January 7, 2022
The Election Commission reviewed the Covid situation in the states weeks after the Allahabad High Court suggested that the elections be delayed over rising cases.
Amid criticism over “super-spreader rallies” in these states, major political parties have pared down their campaign and have been cancelling rallies and public events.
But so far this year, the Election Commission has not banned rallies. The government reportedly told the poll body that there was no reason to panic, that Omicron infections were relatively mild.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against underestimating Omicron as mild even though it appears to be less severe compared to Delta, especially among the vaccinated. “Just like previous variants, Omicron is hospitalising people and it is killing people,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday.
India today reported 1,17,100 new cases of COVID-19, largely driven by the Omicron variant now present in 27 states