Independent politician Samir Ghosh, contesting the West Bengal Assembly elections, died on Monday night due to Covid-19, reported ABP News. This came two days ahead of the last phase of the state elections to be conducted even as the country reels under the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ghosh, who was contesting from Baisnabnagar in West Bengal’s Malda district, is the fourth political leader to have died of Covid-19. The electorate in Baisnabnagar will vote in the eighth and final phase of the Assembly polls.
Within a span of 10 days, four politicians contesting in the Assembly elections have died due to Covid-19. On Sunday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed grief after the death of Trinamool Congress leader Kajal Sinha, a candidate from Khardah in the North 24 Parganas district.
On April 16, Revolutionary Socialist Party politician Pradip Kumar died four days after testing positive for the coronavirus. Kumar was running from Jangipur Assembly seat in Murshidabad district. On April 15, Rezaul Haque, the Congress candidate from the Samserganj constituency in Murshidabad district, died due to the disease.
On April 17, incumbent TMC MLA from Murarai in Birbhum district Abdur Rahman died of Covid-19. However, he was not contesting the state Assembly elections this time.
Union minister Babul Supriyo, who is contesting the state polls from Kolkata’s Tollygunj area, tested positive for the second time on Sunday.
On Monday, the Madras High Court said the Election Commission should be booked on charges of murder for allowing rallies to continue in poll-bound states, despite an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases in the country. “Were you on another planet when the election rallies were held?” the court asked. “Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of the pandemic.”
The High Court had also warned that it will stop the counting of votes, scheduled to take place on May 2, if the poll panel does not put in place a blueprint of how it planned to ensure all protocols are followed that day.
Banerjee on Monday lauded the Madras High Court for rebuking the Election Commission for not enforcing Covid-19 protocols during election rallies.
On Tuesday, the Election Commission banned all victory processions of political parties on May 2, when the results of Assembly elections will be announced. The results for state elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry will be out on May 2.
As of Tuesday morning, West Bengal has 94,949 active Covid-19 cases, 65,3984 recoveries and 11,009 fatalities, according to the Union health ministry’s data.
Elections amid pandemic
While the country battled with a record surge in Covid-19 cases for days during the second wave and hospitals ran out of beds and oxygen, politicians were holding election rallies attended by thousands with little evidence of masks or physical distancing.
In West Bengal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah held gigantic rallies until last week, when the Election Commission finally banned all roadshows and limited gatherings to 500 people amid the worsening situation.
After the fourth round of elections in West Bengal, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had announced that it will not organise big election rallies for the remaining phases. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi cancelled his rallies in West Bengal and Banerjee also decided to hold smaller election meetings. Shah, however, said that it was not right to link the surge in coronavirus cases in India to elections.