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ECI should ensure that people aren't affected by polls: AAP leader

By Preet Kiran
New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) Hours after the Election Commission of India announced the dates for polls in Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Punjab and Uttarakhand on Saturday, Aam Aadmi Party UP in-charge and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said that the ECI should ensure that the polls do not affect people's lives.

In an interview with IANS, Singh said that we will do politics on issues and not on currency. Excerpts:

Q. Election Commission has announced poll dates for five states. Amid the Covid-19 surge, do you think it is the right time to hold polls?

A. The poll body has taken the decision after discussing with experts and various departments. We do not want to question the Election Commission but all political parties should follow the Covid-19 protocols. We hope that the poll panel will ensure that corona protocols are being followed.

Q. The way political parties have been holding public rallies earlier, do you think virtual rallies will be as effective as a general election campaign?

A. Today, at 3 p.m., I addressed a public meeting virtually for the UP assembly polls on issues of famers, women and unemployment. I believe that social media has a lot of influence on all of us and is far reaching. At a time when the country is recording more than four lakh coronavirus infections and health experts say that during the peak the country can log more than five lakh cases, we should not let polls affect the life of the common man. Therefore, virtual rallies can also prove to be a great means of electioneering.

Q. Election Commission has banned physical rallies till January 15. Do you think other parties will also campaign as per instructions of the poll body?

A. We will follow the instructions of the poll panel. We will appeal to other political parties to campaign virtually as on the one hand Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah cancelled their rallies while on the other hand Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath could be seen distributing his phone number. A few political parties are continuously flouting the Covid protocols. Banning roadshows and physical rallies will not serve the purpose, the Election Commission will have to take prompt action.

Q. The poll panel has announced that the UP Assembly polls will be held in seven phases which is a long time. You are the AAP's state in-charge. What is your demand from the poll body?

A. We hope that the Election Commission will take timely action against political parties flouting the poll body's instructions. Earlier, in the West Bengal Assembly polls, Covid protocols were flouted by many parties, especially the BJP but the Election Commission did not take any action...

The AAP has been campaigning extensively in Goa and Punjab.

Though Delhi is not slated to go to the polls, but the Kejriwal government imposed a weekend curfew as the national capital was witnessing a surge in Covid-19 infections. We hope that the Election Commission will hold elections in a manner that the lives of people are not affected as Covid infections are expected to reach a peak in February.