Out of the many poll-bound states and union territories, the West Bengal (WB) election has been the honeypot throughout the country. It has been a rollercoaster ride for the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) who are trying their best to end the “poriborton” wave in the state. With the recent violence in Cooch Behar that resulted in the death of 5 civilians, the state is witnessing a massive political change with all the parties trying to woo and appease the voters.
From name-calling to “gherao the CRPF”, the WB election is full of twists and turns. All the leaders blaming each other for the failed law and order situation, allegations of corruption, and political murders along with audiotapes accepting the charges are only some things that the public has seen. The fifth and the largest phase concluded recently with a record 78.36% voter turnout. The BJP contested all the 45 seats while the TMC fought from 42, and their ally Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) getting 3 seats. The CPI (M) and INC are contesting 25 and 11 seats respectively by letting other allies divide the seats among themselves. The Election Commission (EC) is on its toes ever since the dates of the election were announced. They have summoned many notices to many big names including CM Mamata Banerjee.
Amid all this, we miss the important fact that COVID 19 is still on the rise in WB. The state recorded more than 7000 cases with the 7-day average going above 8000. All the political parties continuously organizing roadshows and political rallies is one of the main causes for the spread of the virus in the state. Thousands of people attended those rallies, with no social distancing or any masks. The leaders, who advise the entire country to follow COVID’s appropriate behaviour, flouted almost all the norms during these gatherings. The second wave of the virus is harder and stronger than the first one, but if our leaders do not follow the guidelines, how do they expect us to do so?
Politicians like Mamata Banerjee and Dilip Ghosh were handed a 24-hour ban for comments relating to Muslim votes and Cooch Behar firings. If this was not the case, their parties were organizing public events almost every day, even when India is facing a health crisis. INC MP Rahul Gandhi has cancelled all his rallies given the surge in the cases. Political outfit CPI (M) has also called off all the events and has initiated door-to-door campaigns for the remaining four phases of the Bengal election.
The rising cases are a big reason to worry as the current health infrastructure of our country is collapsing. As a result, the EC on Friday had ordered a 72 hour silence period ahead of the other rounds of voting. Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, the EC said that public events amid the second wave are not only dangerous but also unnecessary. It also amended the campaigning times in a situation like this. The poll body said that campaigning after 7PM to 10AM will be prohibited in all the constituencies that would go to polls on April 22, 26 and 29. It added that big names and “star campaigners” should set an example by encouraging the people to wear masks and practice social distancing during the rallies. The commission also said that the organizing party will be responsible for giving out masks and sanitizers to the attendees. They concluded by reinstating that the guidelines given out to the parties should be strictly adhered to by all the leaders, which if they fail, will cause criminal proceedings and stern action.
India has been hit hard by the second wave of the pandemic. With daily cases rising to 2.5 lakhs, the country is in a health crisis. The lack of beds and oxygen support is increasing in almost every state despite that, politicians are busy rallying for votes in a corner of the country. This shows us the actual face of these leaders. Instead of handling the situation and not playing politics, all the parties continue the blame game but at the end of the day, it is the common population that suffers. Vaccination alone does not guarantee that the virus will no longer be a threat. We need to take the same precautions we took when the first wave struck us. Our carelessness is our worst enemy and we should not let it get the better of us.
DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author.