Senior officers of the ECI held meetings with representatives of national and recognised political parties in Lucknow till late Tuesday evening.

LUCKNOW — All major political parties in Uttar Pradesh have urged the Election Commission of India (ECI) not to delay the 2022 assembly polls in the state, following concerns of over the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.

Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, Election Commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey and other senior officers of the ECI held meetings with representatives of national and recognised political parties in Lucknow till late Tuesday evening.

The ECI is on a three-day visit to Lucknow to assess the ground situation.

The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) delegation led by J.P.S. Rathore, Samajwadi Party (SP) delegation led by Naresh Uttam Patel, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) delegation led by Mewalal Gautam, Congress delegation led by Onkar Nath Singh and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) delegation led by Anil Dubey urged the ECI to hold the polls as scheduled amid strict Covid-19 protocols.

After the meeting, SP state unit president Naresh Uttam Patel said: “The SP urged the ECI to hold assembly polls as per schedule with strict implementation of Covid appropriate behaviour to check surge of Covid cases. The ECI should clear doubts over the assembly election with the announcement of the poll schedule.”

BJP state unit vice-president Rathore said the Assembly elections should be held as per schedule, but the final decision rests with the ECI.

“The BJP told the poll panel that in view of the possible third wave, adequate arrangements should be made at the polling stations.

“We raised three demands. First, to prevent multiple voting by an individual, we demanded proper verification of burqa clad women voters at polling stations and deployment of women constables at every booth for this. Our second demand was to ensure one polling booth for all members of a family. And thirdly, relocation of any cluster of polling booths in densely-populated areas to avoid mass gathering considering the corona pandemic,” he added.

The Congress, meanwhile, demanded the removal of Additional Chief Secretary (Home) from the post before the polls.

“ACS home Avanish Kumar Awasthi should not be part of election management, he should be transferred before the model code of conduct. It is in public domain that despite being a government officer, he retweets the tweets of Union ministers. He continues to hail PM’s programmes and government schemes by retweeting them,” the Congress said in a letter to ECI signed by Onkar Nath Singh, Virender Madan and Mohammad Anas Khan.

RLD national secretary Anil Dubey said: “The ECI must provide a list of voters above 80 years and specially challenged to all parties.”

The SP has claimed there are 40 lakh voters in the state who are above 80 years or are specially challenged.

The BSP demanded strict implementation of the model code of conduct.