Congress leader and former minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir today urged the Telangana State Election Commission (SEC) to postpone the upcoming elections for seven ULBs, including the Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation and the Khammam Municipal Corporation, and for the filling of the some vacancies in other ULBs in view of the worsening pandemic situation
in the state.
In a letter to SEC Commissioner C Parathasarathi, the minister said, "We would like to request you to postpone the upcoming ULB elections in the state keeping in mind the deteriorating public health situation which is the result of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. I would like to point out that the state government has already cancelled the SSC exams this year, has promoted first-year Intermediate students without exams and has postponed the exams for the second year students. Covid-19 guidelines are constantly being revised to make them more stringent in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Many national events, including the historic Kumbh Mela, have also been cancelled or cut short. All this indicates the graveness of the situation. This is why we urge you to push back the date for the elections as they involve intense campaigning by political parties and candidates. This will involve public meetings, rallies and other large gatherings which will expose the public to the risk of contracting Covid-19. Even door-to-door campaigning will not be safe as there may be asymptomatic party workers or voters moving about freely in the election-bound districts, who may go on to become super-spreaders."
He also said that there had been a huge rise in Covid-19 cases across Telangana, especially in the last two weeks, and pointed out, "As per the bulletin issued by the health department, a record 4,446 fresh cases and 12 deaths were reported on April 16. As against the 13,272 cases reported in Telangana between April 3 and 9, a total of 22,240 cases were reported between April 10 and 16. This translates to a 68% increase. The increase in the districts in which polling is to be held has also been nothing less than alarming - compared to the previous week, there has been a 215% rise in cases recorded in Warangal Rural, a 47% rise in Warangal Urban, a 124% rise in Khammam, a 105% rise in Nagarkurnool, a 105% rise in Siddipet, an 88% rise in Nalgonda, a 76% rise in Mahabubnagar and a 73% rise in Rangareddy. This further proves the pressing need to push back the upcoming elections."
"While the entire country is finding ways to minimise the damage of the second wave, it would be highly inappropriate for the Telangana SEC to conduct elections at this juncture. It will be like exposing 11,26,221 voters and their families to the risk of getting infected with Covid-19. Further, about 9,000 polling staff and thousands of security personnel, who will be deployed for election duties, too would be exposed to Covid-19. Therefore, for the sake of public safety and health, we once again request you to kindly postpone the elections immediately," Shabbir Ali demanded.
His letter follows a press meet
held at the Gandhi Bhavan where the leader had demanded that the SEC immediately postpone the upcoming municipal elections.