What about election rallies?

IFP Editorial: In the mad rush for retaining the political hold or for wresting the baton, SOP are thrown to the wind with the top politicians leading the charge.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated on 30 Dec 2021, 8:11 pm

(PHOTO: Twitter)

(PHOTO: Twitter)

Once again, BJP National President JP Nadda was given a rousing welcome at the Imphal airport by state leaders and party karyakatas and the traffic in Imphal city stood still to give way for the visiting VVIP. He addressed a youth rally at Kakching where thousands gathered. This is Nadda’s second visit this month and last time he addressed party rallies at three places. Besides a women’s rally at Sagolband Bijoygovinda Lampak, he also addressed two more workers’ meetings at Sagolband and Khurai assembly constituencies. The Bijoygovinda venue was open ground, but the workers’ meetings were held in enclosed spaces or halls. That was before the state disaster management authority issued the order banning music concerts, thabal chongba, celebratory feasts and large gatherings of people in enclosed areas or indoor halls.

Although Covid-19 appropriate behaviour mandated for individuals were mostly violated, there were less complaints as daily positivity rate had come down below 1 pc on most days. Political parties particularly the ruling BJP had been organising big election rallies with central leaders in attendance. Majority of those gathered at these rallies were women, most of whom simply refused to put on masks.

As at marriage ceremonies, women had been resisting the mandatory use of masks at most places including election rallies. Thursday’s youth rally at Kakching was held in a wide open ground with thousands attending and many were not masked or not adequately masked and social distancing norms were flouted in the seating arrangement. Even if meetings or rallies are held in open ground, social or physical distancing needs to be maintained for the sake of safety.

With regard to election rallies and the violation of distancing norms, the Election Commission had clarified that it will take over only after poll dates are announced and for the present it is the responsibility of the respective state government. Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra while addressing the media in Lucknow said that ECI’s responsibility begins after poll dates are announced and the model code of conduct kicks in. Till then, the responsibility lies with the state government and they would act as per recommendations of the state disaster management authority. He was responding to a query on whether the commission will take any steps regarding the ongoing poll rallies in Uttar Pradesh that are being held in blatant violation of Covid-19 norms.

Here in Manipur also, the ruling BJP had been organising a series of election rallies in various constituencies where Covid-19 norms are flouted most of the time. Day in day out, the general public is bombarded by the three mantras of Covid appropriate behaviour through the radio, television, ringtones and different mediums. On the other hand, social media and mainstream media is flooded with reports of unfettered political campaigning in the five states where assembly elections are currently going on, attracting top leaders and massive crowds.

The political bigwigs and ministers are personally tweeting and posting images of the roadshows and big crowds where many are without masks including the leaders themselves in the various social media platforms. In the mad rush for retaining the political hold or for wresting the baton, SOP are thrown to the wind with the top politicians leading the charge.

Now, the state is preparing for the visit of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the first week of January and he is supposed to address a big public rally at Hapta Kangjeibung in Palace Compound just as the ban on public gatherings is starting in view of the Omicron threat. Yes, one case has been detected in Imphal and more is on the way with genome sequencing being conducted.

The detection of a case of Omicron had prompted the state disaster management authority to order the ban on gatherings and night curfew. Even if Hapta Kangjeibung is an open space, thousands are expected to attend the PM’s rally as ruling MLAs and intending candidates compete to bring in supporters. So, what exactly is the plan of the State Disaster Management Authority to avoid a disaster from the forthcoming event?


First published:30 Dec 2021, 8:11 pm


IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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