TNT POLL CARD | Poll campaigns in full swing amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in Tripura
By Tanmoy Chakraborty | AGARTALA:
The mood is set for the tribal areas in Tripura to go to the polls on April 6. With election campaigns in full swing, adherence to COVID-19 protocols is a thing of the past.
The Tripura Tribal Area Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) will witness an intense battle between the BJP-Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) alliance, the CPI(M) and the Pradyot-led The Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA).
Political parties are seen moving out to every nook and corner of the tribal areas to campaign for their respective candidates.
Known as a politically active state, Tripura has witnessed interesting political battles and developments in almost every election, be it the Assembly, Autonomous District Council (ADC) or Parliamentary.
This time around, the emergence of TIPRA under the leadership of former Tripura Congress President and royal scion Pradyot Manikya Debbarman will probably affect the prospects of the ruling BJP-IPFT alliance and the CPI(M).
The ADC comprises one-third of the total population of Tripura. The population of areas falling under the jurisdiction of the TTAADC is nearly 12 lakh 16 thousand. The number of registered voters for the upcoming ADC election is 8 lakh 65 thousand and 41.
COVID – A THING OF THE PAST?
Amid the hype, people seem to forget that the COVID-19 virus isn’t done infecting people, though the situation is not as grave as when it first struck.
The scene in Tripura is festive. Election campaigns are going on in full swing.
Political parties are conducting several meetings, rallies and processions every day in the ADC area with the participation of hundreds of people.
But there are hardly any political supporters at the gatherings who are following covid norms.
Only one or two political leaders could be seen wearing masks during political campaigns.
The social distance norm is a “cruel joke” in poll-bound Tripura. Neither electorates nor political parties are adhering to physical distance norms during poll rallies.
When asked why aren’t they wearing masks, their answer is - “now corona is over.”
Since the infection rate has decreased in the past few months, people assume COVID-19 has disappeared into thin air, and life is back on track.
FOLLOW THE LEADER
Even health and police officials are gradually drifting into the complacent mode.
This lackadaisical attitude of officials, ministers and political leaders has prompted people to go their way and live life as if COVID-19 was a simple flu.
Speaking to TNT-The Northeast Today, National Health Mission (NHM) Director Siddhartha Shiv Jaisawal said that emphasis is laid on the importance of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and other COVID norms but, it is difficult to keep track of every individual.
“We are very serious about this situation,” he said.
COVID MAKES A COMEBACK
In the past few days, Tripura has witnessed a fresh surge in COVID-19 cases. For the past few months till February, the COVID situation has improved.
But come March, the situation took a turn for the worse. Tripura registered 53 fresh cases this month, the highest in 2021.
Thirty-six people tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
The death rate is 1.17 per cent, which is the highest in the region. So far, at least 389 people have already died because of COVID in Tripura.
So far, the state registered 33,470 COVID positive cases - the second-highest in the region after Assam.
And considering the way political parties are campaigning amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the situation could aggravate, and there could be a spike in COVID-19 cases in the coming days.
The Chief Medical Officer of West Tripura District, Dr Debasish Das, admitted that the careless behaviour of people is apparent in recent times.
“They are not using a mask, and less adherence to the safety protocols laid down by the health department was also reported,” he said.
According to him, all these issues and recent political programmes came up during the district-level meetings.
All the safety protocols needed to be followed and the health department is working towards that direction, he added.
The tenure of ADC ended on May 17 last year. Because of the COVID situation, the state government did not conduct the election and instead appointed an administrator in the ADC.
After some IPFT-backed lawyers filed an appeal in the Tripura High Court, the Court ordered the state government to conduct the ADC election within May 17 this year.
(Edited by Ibankyntiew Mawrie)