Assembly Polls: EC issues detailed guidelines for counting

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Kolkata, April 28 (IANS) Considering the alarming spike in the number of Covid cases in the country, the Election Commission of India has made it mandatory that no candidate/agent will be allowed inside the counting centres without undergoing RT-PCR/RAT test or without having taken two doses of vaccine against Covid-19.
The results of the Assembly elections held in five states/UT — West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry — will be announced on May 2. Polls have been completed in all the states barring Bengal, where the eighth and final phase of elections will be conducted on Thursday (April 29).
The EC said in its guidelines, “No candidates/agents will be allowed inside the counting hall without undergoing RT-PCR/RAT test or without having 2 doses of vaccination against Covid-19 and will have to produce negative RT-PCR report or RAT report and vaccination report within 48 hours of start of counting.
“The DEO shall make arrangements of RT-PCR/RAT tests for candidates/counting agents before the day of counting. No public gathering outside the counting venue shall be allowed during the process of counting.”
Earlier, the EC had made it clear that no victory procession will be allowed after the counting on May 2. The commission also said, “Not more than two persons shall be allowed to accompany the winning candidate or his/her authorised representative to receive the certificate of election from the Returning Officer concerned.”
According to the guidelines, the DEO (District Election Officer) will have to make arrangements for counting halls which should be sufficiently big to maintain social distancing, and should have proper ventilation, windows, exhaust fans. The DEO will have to obtain a compliance certificate from the concerned health authorities before the commencement of the counting.
The Commission has made it clear that there shall be sufficient number of PPE kits for the counting agents/candidates.
The counting agents’ sitting arrangement shall be made in such a way that between two counting agents, one agent will be in a PPE suit, the guidelines said.
In addition to this, the poll panel has also directed to make adequate arrangements for masks, sanitisers, face-shields and gloves for the people inside the counting centres.
The Commission also said that there shall be proper display of ‘Dos and Don’t’ guidelines at convenient places inside the counting centres, including at the entrance.

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