No breach of conduct on providing free Covid-19, says Kerala CM

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Kerala’s Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, has dismissed any notion that his announcement on free Covid-19 vaccine for all infected citizens in Kerala would amount to breach of the model code of conduct applicable in the ongoing elections to the local bodies, third and final phase beiung held today.

The Chief Minister said this after casting his vote in his home district and CPI(M)-stronghold of Kannur, and added that he had no intention of contravening any rule while making his comment on the Covid-19 vaccine to a a newsperson in Thiruvananthapuram last Saturday.

BJP, Cong make formal complaint

Both the Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP had approached the State Election Commission (SEC) with a formal complaint against the Chief Minister. But the latter maintained that this was merely a reiteration of the government’s stand towards the plight of the virus-infected.

BJP State unit president K Surendran sought ‘appropriate action’ against the Chief Minister for violating the code. “The Chief Minister’s announcement on a free vaccine amounts to violation of the code as the local body elections are still in progress,” he said in his complaint to the SEC.

MM Hassan, Convenor of the UDF noted in his complaint that the State government had not received any concrete information from the Centre on the vaccine. Neither has the State Health Department formulated a plan for its administration, if at all.

Historic elections, says CM

Vijayan told newspersons that elections to the local bodies would be a ‘historic’ one, and reiterated that the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) would mark its victory even in areas where they would normally be unlikely to win. “We have never faced an election like this in Kerala before,” he said.

“All forces are preparing to confront us together and Central agencies currently active in the state on the pretext of a series of investigations, may only facilitate it. They think their efforts will make us weak and upset us. Counting of votes on Wednesday would reveal who upsets whom,” said the CM.

Meanwhile, the third and final phase of polling found even more aggressive turnout in the northern districts than witnessed in the earlier rounds, and also likely throwing up a major challenge to the health authorities in their fight against the spread of the Covid-19 infections in the State.

The State government had voiced apprehension on whether the local body polls could turn out to be disastrous for spreading infections. The Chief Minister had himself echoed it in the context of the relaxation of associated protocols especially with respect to congregation of people across the State.

Till 10.15 am on Monday, more than 25 per cent of the voters in the four northern districts had exercised their franchise in the third phase of the local body polls with the individual break up being Malappuram (25.54 per cent); Kozhikode (24.68 per cent); Kannur (19.26 per cent) and Kasaragod (24.74 per cent).

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