'All parties want state polls to be conducted on time': EC amid growing Omicron cases in India

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission will hold a virtual meeting with top officials and representatives of political parties from Manipur on Wednesday, sources said.

Manipur is one of the five states where assembly elections are due and the virtual meet is part of the poll panel’s exercise to take stock of the situation.

The commission has already visited Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand in the last few days to take stock of the poll preparedness there.

Top state administration officials, representatives of political parties and those part of the poll machinery will attend separate meetings on Wednesday evening, sources said.

On Tuesday, the commission also took stock of the evolving Covid situation in the five states amid concerns over rising infections caused by the Omicron variant, they said.

During a meeting with Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on December 27, the Election Commission noted that the percentage of those administered the first dose of Covid vaccine was still less in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur, while it was nearing 100 per cent in Uttarakhand and Goa.

While the tenure of the Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly ends in May, the terms of the legislative assemblies of Goa, Manipur and Punjab end on different dates in March.

The poll panel is likely to announce the election dates for the five states in the first half of this month.

It has asked the five states to step up the Covid inoculation drive and ensure that the personnel to be deployed on election duty are “double vaccinated”.

In a recent letter to the chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab, the Election Commission has also reminded the five states that polling personnel come under the category of frontline workers and are eligible for the “precaution dose” of the Covid vaccines.

The commission has said the polling personnel to be deployed in these states should be fully vaccinated and those eligible for the second dose of the vaccines should be administered the jabs on a priority basis, the sources said citing the letter.

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