2021 Assembly polls amid COVID-19: All party meeting in Bengal on Nov 9

An all-party meeting has been called in the office of the chief electoral officer Aariz Aftab on November 9 to discuss preparations for the Assembly elections of 2021 in West Bengal. Representatives of all political parties in the state will meet in the office of the CEO on that day.

Primarily, the meeting has been called to discuss preparations in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the ongoing elections in Bihar, it is clear that the pandemic will not come in the way of holding elections, but several strict measures have to be adopted to prevent its spread.

Bihar voted in the first of its three-phase Assembly election on October 28. This is the first election being held amid the COVID-19 pandemic and hence elaborate arrangements for safety have been made as per the directions of the Election Commission. On October 28, voting took place in 71 of the 243 seats in the state. The second and third phase of elections are scheduled on November 3 and 7. Results will be out on November 10.

The Election Commission has issued a number of guidelines in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Staggered polling hours, postal ballot for those above 80 or those infected, sanitised electronic voting machines (EVMs), soaps and water for voters, lowering the number of voters per booth – are among the various measures taken.

It is under this backdrop that West Bengal too will prepare for the coming elections, keeping in mind that the polls have to be conducted whether or not the intensity of the pandemic reduces, officials said. Political parties are expected to offer their suggestions to the CEO.

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