BJP MP Varun Gandhi today tweeted to say that he has tested positive for coronavirus with "fairly strong symptoms". The BJP leader said that he contracted the infection during a visit to Pilibhit, his Lok Sabha constituency, as he appealed to the Election Commission to extend precautionary doses to candidates and political workers involved in the assembly elections that will be held in five states next month.
"After being in Pilibhit for 3 days, I have tested positive for COVID with fairly strong symptoms. We are now in the middle of a third wave and an election campaign. The Election Commission should extend precautionary doses to candidates and political workers as well," Mr Gandhi tweeted.
After being in Pilibhit for 3 days, I have tested positive for COVID with fairly strong symptoms.- Varun Gandhi (@varungandhi80) January 9, 2022
We are now in the middle of a third wave and an election campaign.
The Election Commission should extend precautionary doses to candidates and political workers as well.
Uttar Pradesh and four states - Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa - will go to the polls next month despite a frightening surge of COVID-19 cases in the third wave; this morning nearly 1.6 lakh were reported in the previous 24 hours - a massive spike from the 27,553 seven days ago.
The holding of timely election is the "essence of maintaining democratic governance," Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said, as the top poll body defended its decision to go ahead with the polls.
Last month, the BJP MP had questioned the imposition of night curfew in poll-bound states when there were no restrictions in place for the assembly of lakhs of people at election rallies during the day, when the maximum transmission typically happens.
Criticising the night curfew decision, he said, "Imposing curfew in night after assembling lakhs of people for rallies in the day defies the common man's wisdom".
Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa will be held between February 10 and March 7 in seven phases with the counting of votes on March 10.
"We can't say Corona is only because of the elections... We have ensured that most people are vaccinated. The situation is dynamic and we are monitoring it," Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra replied when concerns were raised over holding elections in the middle of a pandemic.
"As on January 7, in Goa, more than 95.8 per cent of people have been vaccinated with both doses. In Uttarakhand, 99.67 per cent of people have got their first dose and 82.39 per cent have got the second dose," Mr Chandra said.
The chief election commissioner said that in Uttar Pradesh, 89.35 per cent population had been administered the first dose and more than 52 per cent have been fully vaccinated.
"In Punjab, 81.9 per cent have been given the first dose of vaccine and 45.6 per cent covered by both doses. In Manipur, 59.6 per cent had been jabbed with the first dose while 44.8 per cent had been administered both shots." He said that in absolute figures, as of January 7, more than 15 crore people in these five states together have got the first dose of vaccine and more than nine crore had been administered both doses.