Panaji: It is not just the Opposition and civil society which has vociferously opposed the BJP-led coalition government’s insistence to conduct Zilla Panchayat polls amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s elder son Utpal Parrikar has also criticised incumbent Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s decision.
Late on Thursday, Utpal slammed Sawant for his go ahead to the polls, which were initially scheduled to be held on March 22 and were on postponed to March 24, in view of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to hold a ‘janata curfew’ on Sunday.
In a series of sarcastic tweets, Utpal Parrikar, who is a member of the state BJP executive has questioned the Goa government’s resolve to go ahead with the polls, despite the surge in coronavirus cases across the country.
“Sometimes the voice comes from above…,” Utpal tweeted some time after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s broadcast on Thursday.
The former BJP CM’s son also raised questions about the protocol to be followed in case a voter was found to be COVID-19 positive at a polling booth during the Zilla Panchayat polls.
“So do all voters entering booth get quarantined if one of the voter is COVID19 positive? What is the protocol here? Anyone? #zpelections #COVID2019india,” Utpal tweeted.
“Leaving aside the politics what is the protocol? Quarantine every voter of the booth? Mickey Pacheco will certainly demand it as he only took a flight Grinning face,” he also said.
Pacheco, a former Tourism Minister has resisted attempts made by the state health officials to quarantine him, after he was reported to have travelled on an international flight, which was also ferrying a coronavirus positive passenger on March 9.
Sawant has, however, maintained that despite the spectre of the virus, there is nothing much for a voter to worry about when he or she steps out to cast ballot on March 24.
“No need to fear so much. The (State) Election Commission is taking all precautions. At booth level sanitisers will be made available and other precautions are also being taken. All Goans should participate on March 24 elections in large numbers,” Sawant told reporters at his official residence late on Thursday.
Incidentally, Goa has not detected a single coronavirus positive case yet.
The Chief Minister’s decision to postpone the March 22 poll, by just two days, in wake of the viral pandemic has been slammed unanimously by the opposition. On Thursday, Sawant faced stiff criticism after he posted about postponment of the Zilla Panchayat polls on Facebook.
“Dear CM, Please listen to the people. We expected a lot from you being a doctor in this panic situation,” said Mapusa-based businessman Viraj Korgaonkar.
“The most cruel political decision so far! Is this government playing with the lives of people of Goa,” said Bicholim-based Vivek Manerikar.
A total of 1,237 polling booths spread over 50 constituencies will stage the upcoming Zilla Panchayat polls, in which 203 candidates are in the fray. 8.91 lakh voters are eligible to cast ballot in the March 24 polls.
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