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Election in times of corona: a look at the Assam Assembly Election 2021

Ahead of the Assam State Assembly Elections, the positive covid-19 cases have been slowly but steadily rising in Assam. With 21 new positive cases, the Protective Service Officer (PSO) to the general observer to the Teok and Jorhat constituencies, Manjit Singh Brar has been found infected with the novel coronavirus. The PSO Pranjal Borpatro Gohain had tested positive for Covid-19 following Brar’s infection with coronavirus.

With this, Assam currently has 2, 17,766 active cases. However, with the polls, fast approaching there arises a concern of surge in coronavirus case.

As the state gears up for the assembly elections to be held in 3 phases from March 27 to April 6, all political parties have pulled out all stops to ensure their win. Be it huge rallies or public meetings, star campaigners have been campaigning all over the state with thousands of people gathering and coming in close contact. In most of these gatherings, we see only a few or none of the gatherers wearing masks including the ministers.

This disregard for precautions against the coronavirus makes one wonder whether the virus has disappeared overnight.

Keeping in view the current situation, the election will be held in 3 phases as well as special provisions has been issued by the Election Commission (EC). While senior citizens of age 80 and above will have the option of postal ballot, the polling time has been increased. The EC has also announced that all election workers will receive the covid-19 vaccine ahead of the polling day. Door to door campaigning has also been reduced to 5 members including the candidate. The polling stations are also advised to keep sanitisers and masks for the voters.

However, all of these guidelines seem to become null and void when the political leaders, who are supposed to lead the people, themselves, fail to take necessary precautions while campaigning. It will be notable to see how the covid protocols are actually followed on the days of the election across different polling stations.

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