Election Commission of India’s (ECI) safety guidelines on account of alarming surge of Covid-19 cases and Omicron scare went for a toss with several politicians kicking off their election campaign with a large number of supporters in tow.
On Sunday, a large group of people, in some cases over 200 karyakartas and supporters, were seen moving around with leaders meeting voters during the door-to-door campaigns.
While some did not wear a mask, most were with masks pulled below their mouth.
Moving around with a large group of supporters helps leaders/candidates to display their strength and impress the voters.
But with the concern over a spike in Covid cases, the ECI had imposed several restrictions for campaigning during the elections.
Besides banning public meetings, roadshows and vehicle rallies, the ECI had advised political parties and candidates to conduct their campaigns on virtual and digital modes as much as possible.
The ECI had also said that only five people, including candidates but excluding security personnel, would be allowed for door-to-door campaigning.
But the ECI guidelines received scant regard in Bardez on Sunday as a large group of supporters were seen accompanying Calangute MLA and Minister Michael Lobo in Saligao and former minister Dayanand Mandrekar in Siolim during their campaigning.
In fact, Mandrekar boasted that there would have been even a bigger crowd accompanying him.
“This number is very less. Many could not come or the numbers would have swelled. Some of our people had to attend an event today while others had attended a function late last night and therefore could not make it,” Mandrekar told some journalists covering his campaign.
The Deputy Collector and Returning Officer for Bardez, Gurudas Desai informed that action can be taken against the offenders once a complaint is registered with the flying squad.
“If someone lodges a complaint we can take action. When a complaint is lodged, the flying squad visits the spot and takes necessary action if there is breach of election code of conduct,” Desai said.
Every constituency has two flying squads to examine election related complaints.