Hospital staff is seen outside the Special Isolation Ward at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai
A coronavirus isolation ward (Representational image) | PTI
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Amaravati/Kolkata: Elections to rural and urban local bodies in Andhra Pradesh were put off indefinitely by the State Election Commission on Sunday in view of the spread of coronavirus.

Elections to gram panchayats have been kept in abeyance for six weeks, State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar said.

Taking due consideration of emerging challenges posted by coronavirus spread, the SEC is of the firm view that continuing with the election schedule may be detrimental and harmful to the public health at large,” he told a press conference here.

Elections to Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituencies and Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituencies are originally scheduled for March 21.

Also read: Don’t forget to dry your hands to prevent COVID-19. Washing isn’t enough

Uncertainty over Bengal civic polls 

In West Bengal uncertainty looms over the upcoming civic polls as political parties and the State Election Commission are yet to decide whether to move ahead with the elections as per schedule or postpone it by a few weeks.

No official notification or announcement has been made by the State Election Commission (SEC) on the polls so far, but official sources claim the state government is keen on holding the elections between April 12 and 26.

A decision is likely to be taken at an all-party meeting convened by the SEC on March 16, they said.

“The elections will either be held in April-May, chances of which look quite slim, or it will be postponed,” a senior official of the SEC said. The ruling TMC said the discussion on the matter is underway.

“Nothing has been decided so far. Holding election campaigns right now might be a risky thing to do,” a senior leader of the ruling party said.

Opposition BJP and the CPI(M) feel elections to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and 107 municipalities are long overdue and the process should not be delayed any further.

Both the parties, however, have agreed to abide by the “pro-people” decision taken by the SEC.

“We want the SEC and the government to take a legitimate and logical decision, keeping in mind the poll schedule and the coronavirus scare,” BJP state vice president Jaiprakash Majumdar said.

Echoing him, senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said it is for the state government and the SEC to take a call on the matter, but the party would support “any pro-people decision regarding the matter”.

“Elections to most of the civic bodies have been pending for more than a year. The state government delayed the process to serve its narrow political interests. Now we have a situation where only the state government can take the call,” Chakraborty said.

The West Bengal government on Saturday announced to shut down all educational institutions from March 16 to 31 as part of its precautionary measures to check the spread of coronavirus.

The board exams, however, would continue as per schedule.

Elections to 107 municipalities of the state and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) are being viewed as a litmus test for the TMC and the BJP, ahead of the crucial 2021 Assembly polls in West Bengal.

Also read: Move aside Giloy & cow urine, Indian businesses have now found ‘anti-coronavirus’ mattresses


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