Kerala

COVID casts shadow over electioneering in Pala

Coming hot on the heels of a vertical split in the Kerala congress (M),the battle for the Pala municipality was always meant to be a shrill campaign on the ground. The situation here, however, is starkly different.

While posters and banners can be spotted all across its streets, in-person and door -to-door campaign have almost ground to a halt. The focus of public campaigning has now shifted more to an everyday concern - limiting the exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

With one of its candidates testing positive for the disease, the UDF has already suspended its public campaign in Pala till November 30. The coalition leadership has now directed its contestants to remain under surveillance till Sunday and resume direct campaigning only after obtaining certificates testing negative for COVID-19. The situation has been just as bad for the LDF, which also has one of its candidates to the civic body testing positive. Considering that the person did not attend any party events after November 23, the coalition is yet to suspend the public campaign but has put strict restrictions on the public interactions of its candidates.

As per official estimates, at least six persons contesting to the various local bodies in the district including two in Pala have contracted the disease during electioneering. The number, according to sources, is expected to go up further in the coming days.

“We are strictly monitoring whether any of the persons who tested positive or under surveillance are part of the public campaigns,” said M.Anjana, District collector, Kottayam.

Though the district administration has laid down strict conditions to maintain social distancing during electioneering, the norms have been often violated in some locations, she added.

The curbs on electioneering in Pala comes only a few days after the Health Department temporarily banned house visits of all the candidates in Elikkulam panchayat for a couple of days after an NDA contestant tested positive.

Similarly, an LDF candidate in Aymanam panchayat tested positive last week while another candidate in Kumarakom had to go into quarantine after her husband tested positive.

Robbed with the traditional ways of campaigns, the contestants here are perfecting the use of digital communication to reach out to the voters.“But we are keen on returning to the ground and getting up close to voters, which is most-crucial for elections at the grass roots level,” said one of candidates.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 10:16:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/covid-casts-shadow-over-electioneering-in-pala/article33207373.ece

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