Tuesday Aug 16, 2022
Tuesday Aug 16, 2022

Final phase of local elections underway in India's West Bengal amid COVID-19 surge


Nepalnews
2021 Apr 29, 13:23, New Delhi
Photo: West Bengal Administrative Map Source: Google

The eighth and final phase of local elections in India's eastern state of West Bengal is underway amid a steep surge in COVID-19 cases, officials said Thursday.

The ongoing phase is being held in the shadow of spiraling COVID-19 cases. During the past 24 hours, 17,207 fresh COVID-19 cases and 77 related deaths were reported in West Bengal.

According to officials, the polling lasts from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm local time in 35 constituencies spread over four districts amid tight security. Authorities have deployed 641 companies of paramilitary forces for the ongoing phase.

Reports said a bomb was hurled outside Mahajati Sadan in North Kolkata, and police said no one was injured in the incident.

"Until 9:30 am (local time) in today's phase 16.04 per cent of polling has been recorded," an official said.

Special arrangements including mandatory sanitization of polling stations and thermal checking of voters at entry points have been put in place in the wake of COVID-19.

Officials said in view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, the option of postal ballot facility has been extended to the electors who are COVID- 19 positive or suspected cases and are in-home or institutional quarantine along with those marked as persons with disabilities and above the age of 80 years.

Officials said people in large numbers were seen standing in queues from morning outside the polling stations.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to exercise their right to vote and follow the COVID-19 protocol.

"In line with the COVID-19 protocols, I call upon people to cast their vote and enrich the festival of democracy," Modi wrote on social media.

The final phase of the elections will bring an end to the highly charged electoral battle in the state.

India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants to unseat the local All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal. Both parties have been engaged in a tough fight for the electoral battle in the state.

The counting of votes will be carried on May 2.

The elections are being held at a time when India is witnessing a record increase in daily COVID-19 cases.

On Thursday the country reported the world's biggest-ever daily surge with 379,257 new cases and 3,645 deaths in the past 24 hours.


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