Polling amidst the COVID-19 second wave for 34 seats across West Bengal’s 12,068 poll stations across nine assembly constituencies are underway as part of the seventh phase of the elections. The state witnessed its highest 24-hour surge in coronavirus cases yesterday, (Sunday, 25 April 2021), with day being witness to 15,889 new cases and 57 deaths. The fatalities place the state’s overall death toll up to 10,941 (as of 25 April 2021).
West Bengal, currently has 88,800 active Coronavirus cases with reports indicating that Kolkata, the states capital observing an upward trend of 40% positive rate, while the rest of the state maintains a 30% positive rate. Campaigning ceased today with the final phase for voting to take place on Thursday, 29 April 2021.
Reports indicate that the massive poll gatherings and election rallies have been a key factor responsible for the statewide surge in active cases. This correlation has prompted the seventh phase of elections to be carried out with ‘far less fanfare.’ Indian national Congress’s Rahul Gandhi had called off campaigning citing COVID-19 pandemic. It was followed by Mamta Banerjee. Subsequently, the Election Commission of India (ECI) called off road shows forcing the Narendra Modi and Amit Shah led BJP to follow the suit.
The ECI has also cut down on the election hours and extended the ‘silence period by another 24 hours (from 48 hours to 72 hours now). Violence on 10 April 2021 saw the deaths of five people in Cooch Behar, this took place during the fourth phase of the elections, following which an estimated 796 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) were deployed to ensure security at the polling stations. The seventh phase will also see elections being held from Bhabanipur, the West Bengal CM’s home field.