Bharatiya Janata Party MP Varun Gandhi on Monday questioned why election rallies were being allowed in Uttar Pradesh at the same time when night curfews had been imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Gandhi’s statement came two days after the Uttar Pradesh government began implementing a night curfew from 11 pm to 5 am.
Elections for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly are expected to be held early next year and most major political parties, including the BJP, in the state have been holding large-scale rallies there. Lack of Covid appropriate behaviour during these events has triggered criticism.
“Imposing curfew at night and calling lakhs of people in rallies during the day – this is beyond the comprehension of ordinary people,” Gandhi said on Twitter. “In view of Uttar Pradesh’s limited healthcare systems, we must honestly decide whether our priority is stop the transmission of the dreadful Omicron variant, or whether it is political shows of strength.”
The Pilibhit MP said that night curfews have a “very limited impact”, according to The Indian Express. “Maximum transmission typically happens during the day as there are fewer people on the road during the night,” he said. “Must push to strongly cut down on social gatherings which could emerge as Covid 19 clusters.”
Gandhi also referred to the Centre’s advisory in March to the Maharashtra government that called for a holistic strategy to tackle the coronavirus. “...The administration should focus on strict and effective containment strategy,” Gandhi said. “Policymakers should lead from the front, inspiring the common public to stay at home.”
Last week, the Allahabad High Court had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Election Commission to postpone the upcoming Assembly elections and ban political rallies in view of concerns about the Omicron variant.
“...If possible, postpone the elections scheduled to be held in February for a month or two because if we live, then election rallies, meetings will continue to happen,” Justice Shekhar Yadav had observed.
A day after the Allahabad High Court’s request, the poll body’s chief said that a decision will be taken after his visit to Uttar Pradesh next week. When asked about the High Court’s request, Chandra spoke about the measures taken by the poll panel to keep citizens safe during the pandemic.
Chandra assured that the Election Commission would take required steps as per its “Constitutional position” to check the spread of the virus.
The Kerala government will also impose a night curfew from 10 pm to 5 am from December 30 to January 2, NDTV reported on Monday. The government has also prohibited New Year celebrations after 10 pm.