NEW DELHI: The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Thursday wrote to the Election Commission (EC) regarding ‘inadequacies’ in its direction for counting of votes on May 2, stating that no provision has been made for submission of negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test by polling officers and CAPF personnel.
In its letter written to the EC, listing the inadequacies in its directions dated April 28, 2021, said, “The Directions mandate submission of negative test report of COVID-19 of election agent, counting agent and/or candidate prior to such election agent, counting agent and/or candidate being permitted to enter the counting hall. However, surprisingly no such provision has been made for submission of negative test report of COVID-19 by polling officers present in the counting halls.”
Highlighting that 23,000 to 24,000 Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) personnel will be deployed outside the counting hall on May 2, 2021, the TMC stated there is an absence of any provision in the directions or use of PPE kits and submission of negative test report of COVID-19 by such CAPF personnel thereby endangering their health and life.
“ECI seems to be oblivious to the safety of the life and health concerns of the CAPF personnel. Lastly, the directions only provide that if required, postal ballot may be counted in a separate hall under the supervision of the Returning Officer/Assistant Returning Officer. However, it is of utmost importance that the counting of votes cast by postal ballot should be completed before the counting of votes cast on the EVM machine,” said the TMC in the letter.
It further stated that due to the large number of votes cast by postal ballot in view of the ongoing pandemic, the postal ballot counting will require additional time and therefore the same should be counted before counting of votes on the EVM machine.
“In the circumstances, we call upon you to forthwith address the aforesaid lacunae/Inadequacies in the Directions and issue appropriate additional directions to address the same,” the letter concluded.
West Bengal is undergoing an eight-phased Assembly election. The counting of votes will take place on May 2. (ANI)