RJD, Congress, the Left parties and others have argued that the concept “is socially and economically discriminatory” and, thus, against the “principle of equality” and “violative of a level-playing field in the democratic exercise” as virtual campaigns could exclude a large section of the rural people and the poor who have no access to digital connectivity.
Both BJP and JDU appeared supportive of the proposal at the EC representatives’ meeting with political parties in Patna a few days ago.
RJD state chief Jagadanand Singh said: “RJD wants assembly elections to be held in Bihar on time. But the proposal for holding only digital campaigns also raises questions about the availability of digital connections and equipment. A large section of people in Bihar, especially the rural and poor sections, are not connected, and, therefore, the digital campaign will exclude these sections from the purview of the elections. Further, the digital campaign will give the cash-rich ruling parties an undue advantage. Therefore, we have opposed the EC proposal”. He said if people are being allowed to travel by trains and planes as part of the unlocking, why can’t direct campaigns be allowed by deploying the police to enforce social distancing norms.
Akhilesh Singh, chairman of Bihar Congress campaign committee, asked: “What is the point of holding digital campaigns when the EC is fully aware of the realities of Bihar, where a large section of poor people and even smaller parties have no digital connections? Further, the Covid-19 situations is reaching an alarming proposition and it would be better if EC reviews the Covid scene in Bihar in August and then decide whether, when or how the polls could be held.”
CPI chief D Raja said his party has opposed the proposal and asked whether the EC “can spend from its own funds to digitally connect the entire voters of Bihar and provide all parties enough digital equipment to ensure a level-playing field”. CPI-ML’s Dipankar Bhattacharya said: “Our party is sending our written opposition to the EC proposal. If EC is convinced that Covid-19 is not allowing normal campaign in Bihar, why can’t it defer the election till normalcy returns?”
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