Facing severe criticism and the Madras High Court holding the Election Commission responsible for the surge in COVID-19 cases in India, the election body has announced mandatory COVID-19 negative test reports or two doses of vaccine for candidates and their agents for entering counting centres. 

The Election Commission has announced that it has made it mandatory for candidates and their agents to produce negative RT-PCR test reports or complete vaccination reports to enter counting centres. 

Counting for the Assembly elections held in 5 States – Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Puduchery and Tamil Nadu, will be held on May 2. 

“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 or vaccination reports within 48 hours of start of counting,” read an Election Commission notification. 

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Earlier, the Election Commission of India (ECI) banned victory processions after the counting of votes for the State Assembly elections and by-elections on May 2, 2021. 

The ECI in a notification banned the victory processions on the day of counting of votes for the general election to Legislative Assemblies of West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry 2021 and by-elections in various states. 

“In view of the surge in COVID19 cases throughout the country, the Commission has decided to make more stringent provision to be followed during the process of counting, in addition to exiting broad guidelines, dated August 23, 2020,” the notification said. 

The Election Commission has “directed that no victory procession after the counting on May 2, 2021 shall be permissible”. 

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The Commission also directed that “not more than two persons shall be allowed to accompany the winning candidate or his/her authorized representative receive the certificate of election from the Returning Officer concerned”. 

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