As Tamil Nadu is just four days away from the vote counting of the crucial assembly polls amid battling the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Election Commission has on Tuesday issued a new and in fact major order to the political parties. The order has come when the leaders are keenly awaiting to know the people's choice on who will rule the state for the next five years.
On Tuesday, Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo has issued a statement in which he had directed the political parties not to hold victory processions in the state after the vote counting. He strictly said that the victory processions will not be permitted. His order has come in light of the exponential rise of the COVID-19 cases and the growing number of active cases and deaths in the state. Tamil Nadu has been reporting a sharp spike in fresh cases, leading the state to become one of the major states in India to have a heavy caseload.
In his statement, Sahoo said, "Not more than two persons will be allowed to accompany the winning candidate or his/her authorized representative to receive the certificate of election from the returning officer concerned". According to reports, the commission has decided to make more stringent provisions during the counting process due to a surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the country.
Tamil Nadu had gone through the crucial single-phase assembly poll on April 6 and the votes will be counted on May 2. The recently held assembly poll is the first legislative election in the state since the demise of Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa which in a way has made the first election for Edappadi Palaniswami as the Chief Minister and for MK Stalin as the DMK President. Around 4000 candidates had contested in the polls to fill the 234-member assembly and the state had witnessed five fronts on the race towards the reign, in an unprecedented fashion.
The order from the state Chief Electoral Officer has come when there has been speculation across the state that the vote-counting could be deferred as the Madras High Court had recommended the state government to impose complete lockdown on Sunday - May 2 as a measure to curb the virus spread. However, according to reports, Sahoo had asserted that there is no room for postponement and the counting will take place on May 2 as scheduled.
Earlier, the state election commission has also issued guidelines to the candidates and the agents of the political parties that they must produce negative RT-PCR test certificates while entering the counting centres on May 2. Sahoo had instructed the District Election Officers (Collectors) to ensure that only those who have a negative RT-PCR certificate or who have been vaccinated with both doses can enter the counting centres.
Sahoo said that candidates and agents who had received both the doses of the vaccine need not have to produce the negative certificate and he also had advised the district election officers to plan ahead with the view of refraining from confusions on the day of counting. Several district collectors have informed Sahoo that they will be organizing special camps for candidates and agents of political parties on April 29 and 30 in their respective constituencies.