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UP Elections 2022: Congress cancels all UP Rallies, CM Yogi calls off Noida meet

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date
UP Elections 2022: Congress cancels all UP Rallies, CM Yogi calls off Noida meet

Lucknow: The Congress on Wednesday cancelled all political rallies and programmes in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh after shocking scenes yesterday from an event in Bareilly district, in which hundreds of women and teen girls were seen without masks and there was nearly a stampede.

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Meanwhile, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has cancelled his rally in Noida which was scheduled to be held on Thursday. The district has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state.

It is unclear if the ruling BJP plans to follow the Congress’ lead in scrapping all political events and rallies – which draw crowds of thousands that make it difficult to maintain Covid safety protocols – as concern spreads over a third wave of infections led by the more transmissible Omicron strain.

In scary visuals from Tuesday, hundreds of women and teen girls were seen without masks at a marathon organised by the party in Bareilly.The event was held as part of Congress party’s “Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon” Assembly election campaign. Videos of the incident also went viral on social media.

The crowd filled an entire road and, as they started, a few women in the front tripped and fell down, leading to a brief scare as hundreds pushed to get past those in the front.The situation almost led to a stampede; fortunately, no one was injured.

Congress leader and former Bareilly mayor Supriya Aron, who organised the event, played down the scare and deflected concerns by pointing to the stampede at the Vaishno Devi shrine.

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UP will vote for a new government in less than two months, but the scheduled polls come as the country is experiencing a spike in Covid cases, with much of the concern centred on the Omicron variant – a more infectious and, potentially, more vaccine-resistant strain of the coronavirus.

The Allahabad High Court last month asked the Election Commission and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to defer the UP polls, if only by a few months. However, after a meeting between Union Health Ministry and the Election Commission, it was announced the polls would be held as scheduled.

Some preventive measures were announced – including extending voting hours and increasing the number of voting booths – but the commission shied away from immediately cracking down on political rallies attended by tens of thousands of and during which social distancing is absent.

“Our responsibility begins after poll dates are announced and the model code of conduct kicks in. Till then, the responsibility lies with the state government, and they would act as per recommendations of the state disaster management authority,” Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said.

This morning India logged 58,097 new COVID-19 cases – a daily increase for the sixth time in nine days. There are also 2,135 cases of the Omicron strain identified so far, with 31 from UP.

On Tuesday, the Uttar Pradesh government ordered closure of all schools up to Class 10 till January 15 and extended the night curfew by two hours in view of steady increase in COVID-19 cases. In the districts where the number of active cases exceeds 1,000, not more than 100 people will be allowed at marriage ceremonies and other events. Public places like gyms, spas, cinema halls, banquet halls and restaurants will operate at 50 per cent capacity. The night curfew will be imposed from 10 pm to 6 am from Thursday, according to a statement. The decisions were taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, on a day the state reported 992 new infection cases.

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Currently, no UP district has more that 1,000 coronavirus cases. The CM said genome sequencing has confirmed 23 Omicron variant cases in the state. Tracing and testing of those who came in contact with them should be done, the CM said. He directed that it should be made mandatory for devotees coming to Prayagraj Magh Mela to produce a negative RT-PCR test report, which should not be older that 24 hours.

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