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UP election: Amid Covid scare Cong cancels big rallies, asks party workers to assess situation

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New Delhi/Lucknow, Jan 5: The Congress on Wednesday cancelled its four marathon races slated this week and decided not to hold any big rallies in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh for the next 15 days amid a sudden rise in COVID-19 infections in the country.

Congress general secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal has written to the party's state presidents where Assembly elections are around the corner to assess the situation and decide on holding poll rallies keeping the health of the people paramount.

UP election: Amid Covid scare Cong cancels big rallies in UP, asks party workers to assess situation

Party spokesperson Gourav Vallabh told reporters in Delhi the decision to cancel races and not to hold big rallies in Uttar Pradesh have been taken while considering the health of people given that the Omicron variant of coronavirus virus is spreading in India.

"Keeping in view the third wave of coronavirus in the country, the Congress has decided to withhold all its poll rallies in Uttar Pradesh. AICC general secretary (Venugopal) has written to all Pradesh Congress Committees and in-charges in states to assess the situation and make a decision on holding poll rallies accordingly.

"The Congress has, after discussion with all leaders, decided not to hold any political rallies in Uttar Pradesh in the next 15 days. But while we have taken this decision, the prime minister is continuing to hold rallies and is campaigning," he said.

Vallabh said the mistakes done in West Bengal and Assam during the second wave of Coivd should not be repeated. "The nation and the health of its people is more important than winning or losing a particular election because we stand for the country. That is what the Congress Party is for," he said. Vallabh urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "please listen and learn from us".

Asked about other poll-bound states, the Congress leader said, "We are taking stock of the situation in other states also. I assure you that the Congress will not compromise with the health of anyone and would even abstain from doing even small street corner meetings if it endangers the health of any individual."

Meanwhile, party sources in Lucknow said apart from the infection scare, the decision to pause rallies was arrived at after taking into account the recent stampede-like situation at a party-organised marathon in Bareilly had left three girls injured. Accordingly, the marathon races for girls scheduled at Azamgarh, Varanasi, Ghaziabad and Aligarh have been cancelled.

Congress spokesperson Lallan Kumar said on the instruction of general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, the party has cancelled its big poll rallies till the COVID-19 situation improves. The party has decided to go for small gatherings through 'Nukkad Natak' and door-to-door campaigns ahead of the assembly polls, another spokesperson Ashok Singh told PTI that Notably, Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu and Legislative party leader Aradhna Misra had recently written to Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, saying political parties should be encouraged to hold smaller meetings and virtual meetings because of the spike in COVID-19 cases in the state.

They had also emphasised that all the political parties should distribute masks and ensure Covid appropriate behaviour among people participating in election events. PTI

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