The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced on Wednesday that it has made it mandatory for candidates and their agents to produce negative RT-PCR test reports or complete vaccination reports before entering ballot counting centres. Vote counting for the ongoing legislative assembly elections in five states and Puducherry is slated to begin on May 2.
"No candidates/agents will be allowed inside the counting hall without undergoing RT-PCR/RAT test or without having 2 doses of vaccination against Covid-19 and will have to produce negative RT-PCR report or RAT report or vaccination reports within 48 hours of start of counting," read an Election Commission notification.
The District Election Officer (DEO) will make arrangement for the RT-PCR tests of candidates as well as counting agents before the day of the final counting, according to the ECI notification. It also stated that no public gathering outside counting centres will be allowed during the process.
Earlier, ECI had banned victory processions by political parties after poll results on May 2 in view of the rising COVID-19 cases across the country. According to a communique issued by the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday, no more than two people will be allowed to accompany the candidate or their representatives to receive the certificate of election from the Returning Officer concerned.
ECI has made these announcements after the Madras High Court had observed that the Election Commission was responsible for the ragging second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in the country. The Madras High Court had stated, "Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19. Election Commission officers should be booked on murder charges probably." It had warned ECI that it will stop counting of votes on May 2 if a proper plan to ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols is not put in place.(Edited by Mohammad Haaris Beg)