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Bengal polls: BJP-RSS deliberate on alternatives to rallies, roadshows in wake of surge in COVID cases

ANI | Updated: Apr 16, 2021 15:29 IST

By Pragya Kaushika
Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], April 16 (ANI): Considering the gravity of COVID-19 situation across the country, a section of senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionaries are looking at various alternatives to traditional campaigning for the remaining three phases.
The deliberations are on to find realistic alternatives to bigger rallies and rath yatras, which are considered an act of show of strength on part of political parties, a highly placed source informed.
"There is a huge discussion on whether we should continue rath yatras where thousands of people gather and also big rallies that need supporters to throng the grounds in huge numbers or not," stated a senior BJP leader.
While the discussion was in progress, a senior RSS functionary said both senior BJP leaders and RSS believe that the campaigning involving mass gatherings should be avoided if every political party agrees to it.

"Public meetings with a limited number of people like nukkad sabhas are the best ways to ensure that the spread of COVID-19 remains restricted," said the functionary.
Interestingly, during one such nukkad sabha on Thursday BJP Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya announced that instead of big rallies in and around Kolkata there would only be nukkad meetings. He also asked everyone to wear a mask as a responsible citizen. He also asked party workers to distribute mask to everyone present.
While Left has already decided to engage in a virtual campaign, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has asked the Election commission to reconsider its decision to hold the election in one go and not in all eight phases.
BJP, however, is of the view that for fair and free elections, a deputation of central forces by EC is imminent and that because of the limited number of central force personnel clubbing all phases would put undesirable pressure on the forces.
"It is for the Election Commission to decide whether all the phases can be clubbed or not. We, however, will not ask to change the election dates as notified by EC," stated a senior leader.
With a surge in COVID cases across the country including those states where no polls are taking place, many state and UT governments have decided to put night and weekend curfews to rein in the spread of the virus. Fingers are being raised at political parties for Bengal elections as all parties are conducting roadshows and rallies where Covid protocols are being flouted. (ANI)