Ockhi dampen Guj Polls: Parties stand prepared

Wednesday 06th December 2017 07:15 EST

After Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Lakshadweep fell victim to Ockhi, the cyclonic storm is expected along the Gujarat coast around midnight of Tuesday-Wednesday. The arrival of destruction is preceded by a steady downpour of rain in the state. As the state is set to go into polls in two phases, reports said rains, clouded skies, wind and a fall in temperature across several districts have slowed down political activities.

The election is scheduled to be held in two phases, on December 9 and 14. Campaigning for both will close on December 7 and 12, respectively. The storm is set to affect mainly coastal areas of Saurashtra and South Gujarat, which all go to polls in the first phase. Following changed weather conditions, BJP President Amit Shah, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, and Congress leader Raj Babbar were among those whose election rallies in different coastal districts of Gujarat were cancelled. Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is scheduled to addressed a dozen rallies in the coming three days, finds his campaigning subject to weather conditions. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, however, addressed a rally in Anjar.

Educational institutions, particularly schools, have been asked to remain shut until the impact of the storm wanes. Trains have also been delayed at some places and vehicular traffic was affected due to low visibility. Different ports have displayed alerts with danger signals.

The Election Commission of India has asked poll authorities to ensure all voters in Assembly seats falling in the path of the cyclone, are able to exercise their franchise on December 9 without inconvenience despite inclement weather. In a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat, the EC said, considering the cyclone alert and the scheduled first phase of polls, “besides making effective arrangements for immediate relief and rehabilitation, adequate, effective, and fool-proof arrangements may also be made towards the smooth and efficient conduct of the election process.” It added that all authorities should also ensure that the voters are “able to exercise their franchise without any inconvenience.”

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