Wheels of Democracy Move On Despite Pandemic

 

By R. Lal & KP Singh

At A Glance

  •  Corona curfew across the state extended till May 10
  •  Record number of new cases and recoveries too
  •  Lucknow University announces vacation till May 15
  •  Vaccination for all above aged 18 begins at few centres
  •  Mega Covid hospital set up by DRDO starts operation at Awadh Shilp Gram
  •  Oxygen supply from other states continues
  •  Cricket tournament IPL cancelled
  •  UP Board examinations likely to be cancelled

Lucknow: For the people of Lucknow, the months of April and May this year have been unforgettable. The unimaginable tragedy wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic affected hundreds of households in the state capital. Tales of misery, helplessness and hope have been abounding.

Simultaneously, the state also went ahead with the village-level elections of Panchayat committees. The elections to the state assemblies in West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam, and Puducherry added to the scramble of happenings. The necessity of an electoral democracy was met despite the difficult times being faced by the people all over.

In the week ending May 7, the state capital saw a fall in daily number of new cases – from a record high of more than 37,944 in the week ending on April 24, averaging to about 5000 per day, to about 1800 on May 6.

“There appears a slowing down of the spread of the virus, although it is too early to say if it is becoming a trend,” said Dr Atul Kumar, a physician in Gomtinagar. He added that barring for two or three, most of patients calling him for tele-consultation were complaining of Covid-like symptoms, and subsequent pathology tests established the infection

Shirish, a professional who is part of a group involved in voluntary service to provide meals and rations to the needy, says the group members have noticed a decline in the number of beneficiaries.

Election Season

The election to the village-level Panchayats was held after repeated postponements and delays, and being a constitutional necessity, it was completed as per schedule. The polling for Panchayat election was held in four phases from April 15 to 29 and counting was done on May 2 onwards. There are over 7.32 lakh seats in the Gram Panchayat wards, 58,176 in Gram Panchayats, 75,852 in Kshetra panchayats and 3050 in Zila Panchayats, totalling about 8.69 lakh posts.

It was for the first time this year that major political parties openly backed candidates for all levels, making it a virtual test of strength among all parties for the UP Assembly election in early 2022.

Other States

For those keeping a keen watch of national politics, however, the focus of interest was West Bengal, where the Bharatiya Janata Party unleashed all its power to wrest power from Trinamool Congress headed by state’s Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee. However, the BJP notched up an impressive rise in its Assembly seats from 3 to 77, while TMC retained power with 213 seats.

In the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly, the DMK stormed to power winning 133 seats and the incumbent AIADMK won 66.

In Assam, the ruling BJP retained power by wining 74 seats in the 124-member Assembly.

Kerala continued to be the only bastion of Communist rule with the verdict going in favour of the Left Front headed by Chief Minister P. Vijayan.

“The biggest loser has been the Congress party, as it lost in Kerala and Assam, scored nil in West Bengal and lost its government in Puducherry. The only consolation is that it was a junior partner in Tamil Nadu in the alliance led by DMK,” said Prof TK Roy Choudhury, a professor of History and Current Affairs.

Impact on UP

The less-than-expected performance by the BJP has caused concern among the party’s top leadership. This concern is significant in view of the UP Assembly election scheduled in February-March 2022 – hardly ten months away.

Although the BJP government in the state headed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath enjoys a strong majority, the Covid situation has led to people’s resentment at the inadequate and delayed response of the government machinery. The state BJP president Swatantra Deo Singh, however, has been quoted as saying that the party is not facing any leadership crisis and is in fact satisfied at the Panchayat election results.

 

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