Assembly polls 2022: 2,271 FIRs for Covid-19, poll code violations

Assembly polls 2022: 2,271 FIRs for Covid-19, poll code violations
Around 2,270 first information reports (FIRs) were registered across Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur, Goa and Uttarakhand this election season for violation of the model code of conduct and Covid-19 guidelines.

The highest number of FIRs were predictably filed in UP, which wrapped up its sevenphase polling on Monday. Of the 1,700 FIRs filed in UP, 1,236 were for violation of the model code of conduct while 464 for Covid-19 related violations.

Singed by criticism over the handling of the pandemic during the last assembly elections in 2020, the Election Commission of India treaded extra cautiously this time, banning all physical rallies and road shows for nearly three weeks of the campaign period.

It asked the state electoral machinery to act strongly against any Covid-19 related violations by political parties and leaders and instructed the District Election Officers to book violators without delay.

As per latest data, while 464 FIRs were lodged in UP for violation of pandemic guidelines, 93 FIRs were lodged in Uttarakhand. 48 FIRs were lodged for Covid-19 violations in Goa and 26 in Punjab. In Manipur, not a single FIR was lodged on this count. In all, over 300 FIRs were lodged in Uttarakhand for violation of the model code and Covid-19 in- structions, 104 in Punjab, 106 in Goa and 26 in Manipur.

While party-wise data on FIRs is still under compilation, in UP, statistics up to February 27 does some telling. The maximum mum FIRs were filed against the Samajwadi Party in UP for Covid-19 and model code violations, at 306. They are closely followed by the BJP at 256, against the Bahujan Samaj Party at 132 and the Congress at 99.

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Smaller partners too were not spared. The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) had 60 FIRs filed against them while Owaiai’s AIMIM had 16 and Aam Aadmi Party had 32 against them. NDA ally Apna Dal is faced with four such FIRs. 47 FIRs were filed against Independents.

The important metric in this round of elections, however, was the voter turnout, which dropped in all states except Manipur, as per data compiled so far. ECI officials pointed out that even though the turnout was slightly less, the numbers of persons who voted is very high as about 11 million new voters have been added in the five states since the 2017 elections.

This is, however, what turn out figures say. While Goa recorded 81.27% voter turnout in the 2017 assembly polls, it was 79.61% in the 2022 polls. Uttarakhand was largely stable but showed a miniscule dip –– from 65.56% in 2017 to 65.37% in 2022.

UP has seen an almost similar voter turnout across the seven phases with minor dips and rises. The big dip was seen in Punjab –– from 77.4% in 2017 to 71.95% in 2022.

Manipur on the other hand, saw the figure rise from 85.9% in phase 1 in 2017 to 88.69% in 2022 and from 87.2% in phase 2 in 2017 to 89.70% in 2022.

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