Amid Covid threat, Gujarat govt issues SOP for Rajya Sabha polls

The Gujarat government’s Health and Family Welfare Department has issued a special Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the MLAs who were hospitalised for testing positive for Covid-19, or were in home/ institutional quarantine, for voting in the Rajya Sabha polls on Friday.

The Rajya Sabha elections for four seats in Gujarat are scheduled on Friday. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the Election Commission to reschedule the dates of the elections, which were earlier scheduled to be held on March 26.

The state government has issued an SOP for the MLAs who will vote for the Rajya Sabha polls. There are five candidates for the four seats in Gujarat, and looking at the strength of the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress, it will be a tough fight for the fourth seat where every single vote will count.

To ensure that no party faces any disadvantage because of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Health and Family Welfare Department has issued an SOP, so that even if a legislator is infected or is a suspect case, he/she is able to cast his/her vote.

The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Gujarat, Murali Krishna, has issued certain measures to be taken at the polling centre in the state Assembly building, located in the State Secretariat Complex here.

According to the CEO, the polling hall shall be big enough to maintain social distancing and there shall be proper arrangement of sanitisers. All the staff deployed in the polling centres shall compulsorily wear masks and before the polling process begins, the entire place will be disinfected.

To take care of all the precautionary measures, the state government, in consultation with the Health and Family Welfare Department, has appointed Dinkar Raval as the nodal officer.

Two separate waiting halls have been identified, one for the MLAs suspected to have contracted the virus, the second for the others. All those entering the state Assembly building, including the polling staff, voters (MLAs), candidates and party representatives, will have to wear masks and use hand sanitisers frequently.

The polling officer has ensured that there are adequate stocks of sanitisers, masks and other necessary equipment at the polling centre. The complex will also have adequate medical staff and ambulance.

All those entering the state Assembly building will be screened with thermal scanners. If anyone is found to have high temperature, he/she be separated and sent to the separate waiting hall escorted by the medical team.