Kolkata: The Election Commission (EC) has made an extensive arrangement for counting in the by-election in four Assembly constituencies, including Dihata in Cooch Behar, Santipur in Nadia, Khardha in North 24 Parganas and Gosaba in South 24 Parganas.
Considering the rise of Covid cases in the country, the EC has made it mandatory that no candidates or agents will be allowed inside the counting hall without undergoing RT-PCR test or Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) or without having two doses of vaccination against Covid-19. Earlier, the EC had put a restriction on all victory processions after the counting.
The EC in their guidelines said, “No candidates or agents will be allowed inside the counting hall without undergoing RT-PCR or RAT test or without having two doses of vaccination against Covid-19 and will have to produce a negative RT-PCR report or RAT report or vaccination reports within 48 hours prior to start of counting. The District Election officer (DEO) must make arrangement of RT-PCR or RAT test to candidates or counting agents before the day of counting.”
“No public gathering outside the counting venue must be allowed during the process of counting,” the EC directed.
Earlier, the poll body had made it clear that no victory procession after the counting on May 2 will be allowed.
It said, “Not more than two persons must be allowed to accompany the winning candidate or his/her authorized representative receive the certificate of election from the Returning Officer concerned.”
According to the guidelines, the DEO will have to make arrangements for counting halls that should sufficiently maintain social distancing, and must have proper ventilation, windows, exhaust fans etc. The DEO will have to obtain compliance certificate from the health authorities concerned before the start of the counting.
The EC has made it clear that there must be sufficient number of PPE kits for counting agents or candidates. The counting agents’ sitting arrangement must be made in such a way that out of the two counting agents, one must be in PPE kit, the EC guidelines said.
In addition to this the poll panel also mandated adequate arrangements of masks, sanitizers, face shields and gloves for the people inside the counting hall.
The poll body said there must be proper display of guidelines “Dos & Don’ts” at convenient places, including entrance gate and inside counting hall and not more than two persons will be allowed to accompany the winning candidate or his/her authorized representative receive the poll certificate from the Returning Officer, the guidelines added.
An extensive security arrangement has been made in the counting venues. According to senior EC officials, there will be a three-tier security system with the inner ring managed by the Central forces and the rest of the two rings will be handled by the state armed police.
The middle security ring will be handled by state armed forces while the outer ring will be managed by the constable ranked personnel.
“Person without proper authorisation with not be allowed inside the security cordon,” the EC official said.