The wife of Trinamool Congress candidate Kajal Sinha who died of Covid-19 on April 25 has filed a complaint of murder against the Election Commission, reported NDTV. Sinha is among four politicians, contesting the West Bengal Assembly elections, who have succumbed to the disease within a span of 10 days.

Sinha’s wife, Nandita Sinha, has accused Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain and other officials of the poll panel of “careless and negligent” behaviour, which caused her husband’s death. Nandita Sinha’s police complaint alleged that the Election Commission had “self-serving blind motives” as the country dealt with the coronavirus crisis.

Kajal Sinha was the Trinamool Congress’ candidate from the Khardaha Assembly seat, which voted in the sixth phase of the West Bengal Assembly polls on April 22. The politician died three days after the voting in his constituency.

“In comparison, elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry were held and completed in one day [and] in one phase...” the complaint said, according to NDTV. “And Assam saw voting in three phases in a span of three days.”

Nandita Sinha also highlighted that the Trinamool Congress had made two requests, on April 16 and April 20, to club the rest of the phases of voting in the state. However, she wrote that the Commission had “frivolously replied [citing] its illusory and cosmetic safeguards in the form of prohibition of campaign after 7 pm and extension of the silent period from 24 to 72 hours”.

She also alleged that the poll body had intentionally ignored all evidence pointing to the “impending catastrophe” even after the Calcutta High Court’s observations.

On April 22, the High Court had said it was “unable to reconcile with the fact” that the Election Commission of India had failed to take any steps beyond “issuing curriculars” to tackle the surge of coronavirus infections in West Bengal while conducting the Assembly elections there.

Four politicians contesting in the state elections have died of Covid-19. Apart from Kajal Sinha, Independent politician Samir Ghosh died on Monday night. Ghosh was contesting from Baisnabnagar in West Bengal’s Malda district.

On April 16, Revolutionary Socialist Party member 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 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.”

Also read:

  1. Plotting the Covid-19 explosion in Bengal as it saw India’s longest-ever state election
  2. Why did the BJP run a largely non-polarising campaign in West Bengal?

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 Chief Minister Mamata 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.