India’s eastern state of West Bengal voted for the fifth phase of elections amid an alarming rise in cases of coronavirus across the country and the state on Saturday (April 17).
India reported 234,692 new COVID-19 cases and 1,341 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 14,526,609.
In Kamarhati constituency of North 24 Paragana district, social distancing were not observed as voters were glued to each other in queues awaiting their turn to vote while pushing and shoving each other.
In most places, polling officials checked the temperature of voters, giving them hand sanitisers and other items, but people still questioned the timing of political rallies and elections at the time of the pandemic.
“This is something to ponder upon, how will people vote if they are not alive to do it?” asked a voter Tanmay, while condemning politicians preaching COVID-appropriate behaviour on the one hand and organising massively crowded rallies on the other.
Criticism has mounted over the Indian government’s handling of the health crisis, as religious festivals and election rallies continue amid increasing reports of shortage of hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and vaccination doses.