Amid concerns surrounding the Covid-19 variant Omicron, the Allahabad High Court on Thursday requested the Election Commission of India (ECI) to postpone the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls by one-two month. It also requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prohibit election rallies and public political gatherings in the state.
“If rallies are not stopped, results will be worse than the second wave,” Justice Shekhar Yadav stated, adding, “Jaan hai toh jahaan hai (if there is life, there is the world).”
The High court’s directions invoked Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to life through procedure established by law. The court made observations while hearing a bail petition in an unrelated matter.
Citing the Gram Panchayat elections and the West Bengal Assembly polls, which had contributed to Covid-19 deaths during the horrifying second wave of the pandemic, the HC requested the Election Commission to encourage electoral campaigning through TV, print media, and not physical events.
India has reported 236 cases of Omicron variant so far, according to the Union Health Ministry data. Earlier in the week, the health ministry had written a letter to the states, noting that the newly emerged variant of Covid-19 was three times more infectious than the previously dominant Delta variant.
Maskless crowds and lack of Covid appropriate behavior during the election rallies have triggered widespread criticism. As the number of cases of the Omicron variant rises steadily, there are concerns about pre-election rallies turning into superspreader events and the health infrastructure of the state might not be fully prepared to deal with.