BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta speaking to media on Friday. (Photo/ANI)
BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta speaking to media on Friday. (Photo/ANI)

WB: After all party meeting, TMC calls for clubbing remaining phases of elections, BJP says it wasn't on agenda

ANI | Updated: Apr 16, 2021 18:09 IST

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], April 16 (ANI): After the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) in West Bengal called an all-party meeting over adhering to COVID-19 norms during the ongoing Assembly elections, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) reiterated their requests to club the remaining phases into one, while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) maintained that it was not on the agenda.
Speaking to the media, TMC leader Partha Chatterjee said: "They have listened to our arguments and we hope they will take appropriate action to prevent COVID-19. Equal opportunities should be given for the purpose of publicity but clubbing of all phases in one day will not prevent that."
On the other hand, BJP candidate Swapan Dasgupta said that the issue of clubbing the remaining phases was not on the agenda.
"It has always been the eight phases. We have advised the Election Commission (EC) to balance the need for a robust democratic culture with safety norms. It is up to the EC to tell us what exactly political parties must do. We have assured them that we'll adhere to protocols," he said.
Earlier, TMC MP Derek O'Brien called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to urge clubbing the remaining phases of West Bengal Assembly elections into a single phase.
"TMC's position is very clear. We want one phase altogether and then have the election. I would request BJP to make their position clear. Do they agree with us on one phase? Do they agree that politics is a second priority, the first is the handling of this COIVD-19 pandemic, people are dying, suffering, families are losing their loved ones. What are Modi and Shah doing?" he said
Slamming the duo for their 'blind ambition and desperation', O'Brien said they must lead by example and ask the EC for a single phase of the elections.
"EC called the eight phases but TMC objected to those phases on Day 1. No one was listening to us at that time," he said.
Earlier last week, the Election Commission had written to all national and state parties asking them to follow all COVID-related guidelines during public meetings, rallies and other activities. The Commission also took a 'serious view of the laxity in maintaining norms, particularly not wearing masks by political leaders on stage.'
Yesterday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also called on the Commission to club the remaining phases of the elections.
"Amid an ongoing pandemic, we firmly opposed @ECISVEEP's decision to conduct WB polls in 8 phases. Now, in view of the huge surge in COVID19 cases, I urge the ECI to consider holding the remaining phases in ONE go. This will protect the people from further exposure to COVID19," she tweeted.
Prior to that, the EC clarified that there are no plans to club the remaining phases amid speculations in light of the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases across the country.
Forty-five constituencies covering the districts of Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong, Darjeeling and a segment of Nadia, North 24 Parganas and Purba Bardhaman will go to polls in the fifth phase of West Bengal Assembly elections on April 17. (ANI)