BJP ready for virtual poll rallies in 5 States

It’s the job of poll panel to decide, says Union Minister

As cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus saw an upward tick in several States, the BJP declared that it was ready to hold virtual rallies, if called, in Uttar Pradesh , Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur that go to the polls early next year.

Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat told reporters that the BJP was ready for virtual election rallies. “We’d held such rallies during the West Bengal elections.”

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Mr. Shekhawat, who is also the party’s Punjab in charge, stated that “it is the job of the poll commission to decide how, when and with what policies elections will be held and what restrictions will be there. The decision taken by it will be applicable to all political parties”.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Monday briefed the Election Commission of India (ECI) on the situation with regard to Omicron. With polls in five States, concerns have been raised over full physical campaign by political parties and that large rallies and roadshows may lead to an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases. During the second wave of the pandemic in the country in summer, such a rise had been seen throughout poll campaigning in States like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Assam.

On December 25, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced “precaution” or booster doses of vaccines for health and front line workers. All those involved in the election process, including officials and others have been added to the front line workers category, eligible for these “precaution” doses.

The ECI is likely to announce dates for polls early next month.

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