“We had in a letter on March 27 asked the state government to vaccinate every teacher on election duty,” Mahasangh state spokesperson Virendra Mishra told ET. “The state government ignored the demand. We have information about 135 deaths in 22 districts from our members in the regions.” The Mahasangh has demanded ₹50 lakh compensation and a government job for next of kin of those who died.
The state government, however, expressed ignorance about the casualty figure. “We have no official information on this,” basic education minister Satish Dwivedi told ET. “No one has died during election duty. They claim teachers went on election duty and were infected by the virus. There are many people who have been infected even without being on election duty.”
On compensation, Dwivedi said that the decision will be taken by the chief minister and it will be for all government employees. “Not only teachers, but employees from government departments, Aanganwadi workers, they all were involved in election duty,” Dwivedi said.
Apart from the Mahasangh, the UP Education Officers Association and Khand Shiksha Adhikari Sangh, have also written to the state election commission demanding advancing the vote counting schedule to May 2. The state election commission has attracted criticism for conducting the panchayat polls during the pandemic’s surge.
“I had appealed to the election commission on April 13, before the first phase of polling, to postpone polls due to Covid-19. HC ordered the polls, but the commission has the powers to postpone it,” BJP’s Mohanlal Ganj MP Kaushla Kishor told ET. It was impossible to follow Covid-19 protocol during panchayat election campaigns. “No one knows who is infected and has come to vote. These elections have taken infection to the villages and even government staff and candidates have died. The SEC is responsible for it,” he said.