Elections in 2022 to be held at the cost of people’s lives? Who would be held responsible: EC, Judiciary, or the political Parties?
India has witnessed the second wave of Covid-19 in the early months of 2021. The incidence has seen the collapse of the health infrastructure. It was evident that the death rates took a huge toll. The patients outnumbered the hospital beds.
Currently, India is undergoing the third wave of the pandemic with thousands of cases being brought to the notice. In such a case when India is facing an extreme crisis, is it okay for the Election Commission to conduct Elections for the year 2022?
Election Dates for 2022:
Elections are a kind of political celebration in India. With a massive amount of money being funded for election campaigns and rallies, the citizens of India take elections seriously and more importantly the political parties.
The fact is evident from the repelling of the farm laws that were imposed by the BJP Government to gain votes for the upcoming elections in the Uttar Pradesh and Punjab region.
The Assembly Election Dates have already been released by the Election Commission for 2022. The elections would be conducted between 10 February and 10 March in which a total of 690 Assembly constituencies will take part.
It will be held in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur, and Goa with the maximum number of seats in UP (403 seats).
Moreover, the dates of the election have already been announced by the EC. Uttar Pradesh will cast its votes on seven phases which are given as February 10, February 14, February 20, February 27, March 3, and March 7.
While the states of Punjab, Goa, and Uttarakhand will cast their votes on February 14.
Elections in Manipur will be scheduled in two phases on February 27, and March 3.
The Election Commission has stated that “ The holding of timely election is the essence of maintaining democratic governance.” The statement is completely supported. But at the time, when India is facing a crisis with thousands of cases being brought into the spotlight, and the state governments are imposing restrictions, is it fair to hold elections?
As a matter of fact, the Election Commission has already barred rallies and campaigns till January 15. They have also spoken that the restrictions could be extended depending on the circumstances as the ground situation is not always dynamic.
To grasp an idea of why the upcoming elections may possess a threat to the lives of people inhabiting that region, let us move forward to get a quick representation of the Covid-19 status in that region.
Covid-19 Health Updates in Uttar Pradesh:
According to trusted sources, Uttar Pradesh recorded a surge in the daily positivity rate as of January 12, 2022. The state recorded a total of 11,809 cases.
The increase in covid-19 positivity rate made the UP Health and Family Welfare Secretary provide strict protocols in response to individual health interests.
The total number of active covid cases is estimated to be 44,468. Records have depicted that five persons have died of the infection, thus, taking the death rate to a count of 22,937.
In addition, the UP Government has laid out fresh restrictions allowing restaurants to operate in 50% of their total capacity, and also the closing of gyms, and, swimming pools for a definite time period.
Covid-19 Health Updates in Punjab:
Punjab has recorded nine more deaths due to the pandemic infection and the number of fresh cases expanded to the count of 4,593. The total infection count has been revealed to be 6,29,899.
In addition, recent records depict that Punjab has achieved a positivity rate of 18.64%.
A total of 338 patients are on oxygen support while 13 of the patients are in a critical situation under ventilator support.
Covid-19 health updates in Uttarakhand, Manipur, and Goa:
Uttarakhand has also observed a surge in the covid-19 cases in January 2022. The state has reported a count of 630 fresh cases, which is recorded as the highest number of cases in a single day. Later, it saw a surge of 2127 more cases which resulted in the Uttarakhand Government extending the night curfew timings. As the state is culturally significant, the government has restricted gatherings in Makar Sakranti prohibit devotees to take bath in the Ganga rivers situated in Haridwar and Rishikesh.
Goa has also seen similar trends in covid-19 cases as every one out of three persons turns out to be positive against the strain of the virus. The positivity rate has spiked to 30%. The figures have been recorded to be 193977 cases.
Omicron has already entered the state of Manipur. 9 out of 16 regions in Manipur have been listed as “Category 1” and “Category 2” which represents that the regions are highly vulnerable to the threat of the virus. The government has moreover strengthened the restrictions in that region.
In such a situation where the covid-19 case rates are spiking, the conduct of elections seems to be a thoughtless, and unfair decision by the election commission. It will not only question the safety of people’s health. In addition, it will also prevent fair conduct as most of the people can not contest their votes for the favorable political parties in their home state as travel restrictions have been imposed on several regions.
After the announcement of the assembly polls by the Election Commission in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur, and Goa, The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shared the Vulnerability of districts for covid-19.
According to the analysis made in the report, it has been stated that 65 of 75 districts in Uttar Pradesh, 21 of 22 districts in Punjab, and 9 of 16 districts in Manipur are listed as “Category 1” and “Category 2” districts. It also says that the population of these regions is vulnerable to infection.
On the dates when the polls would be conducted in the respective constituencies, thousands of people (many without face masks, and not a single dose of vaccine). Social distancing and proper sanitization are absent in those events. Will the EC take responsibility for the people who will be infected in the regions? Will the political parties secure hospital beds for the infectees or we will see the history of the second-wave repeat itself?
In the past, when the EC allowed West Bengal to conduct assembly elections, the number of covid-19 cases soared up to a massive number. We can not let history repeat itself. The Election Commission should either take accountability for the covid-19 patients after the cases would increase after the mass gathering event or they should postpone the date of elections.
Elections are important for maintaining the democracy of the political system of India but not at the cost of the lives of people.
Edited and proofread by Ashlyn