VASCO: Vascoites have seen it all. The first COVID death in 2021 from the taluka to the quick spread and rises of cases. With the civic polls this week, the locals, simmering with complains ask "Are the polls more critical than saving lives?"
The rise in COVID cases in the rural areas of Baina, Church was kept close for 2 days for sanitization and people could not attend masses on Saturday and Sunday. But on Sunday evening, one candidate organised a huge election parade of nearly 200 persons who passed by the church doors shouting slogans on loudspeakers and nearly 90% of the persons did not wear masks.
Some locals feel that strict SOPs related to COVID should be imposed during election time. Whereas some feel that municipal elections need to be postponed to avoid spread of COVID. All are equally aghast by seeing the reluctance of the government amid pandemic.
Speaking to the Herald, Nitin Faldessai, leader of Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch who is the resident of Vasco criticised the mismanagement and the casual approach of the state govt in timely tackling the rising COVID cases and related deaths in Goa.
Faldessai said, "There are high chances that COVID cases may spike looking at the casual way it is being handled by the State govt. It seems like the BJP karyakartas and party members are immune to COVID and rest of us is vulnerable to it. I strongly feel at this moment the municipal elections need to be postponed"
He further hopes that after the municipal elections, there might be chances of imposing some COVID related SOPs. “Last year the COVID 19 pandemic was mismanaged. This year too we see the same behavior when there is a spike in cases and deaths. The govt seems to be busy thinking about its political, economic gains. The municipal elections needs to be postponed to avoid spread of COVID" Faldessai opined.
Agnes Pinto, from Vasco said "As a voter I definitely feel the elections should be cancelled or postponed. Before being a voter I am a human. The most important thing for me as a human is good health. If we have good health we can do anything & everything. But if there is no health what's the use of accumulating wealth when you cannot enjoy it.”
"With the rising cases our major priority now should be health & measures on how to stop the spread of Coraonavirus. We are putting restrictions on social gatherings, cancelling exams, postponing them so what not elections?" she questioned.
Peter Andrade another citizen from Vasco said that the emerging threat of a full blown and uncontrollable pandemic situation has created fear in the minds of citizens. It is wildly believed that the lust for power is greater than the risk of COVID and that’s the reason why elections are not being postponed.
He further said most people feel that a lockdown will be imposed after the Municipal voting is conducted. Some did not want to go and vote for two reasons, one being the risk of COVID and two, the futility of voting people to power who believe in revolving chairperson posts and not providing practical solutions in a fast emerging medical emergency.
“Even the Chief Minister seems to be wilfully trying to sideline the COVID mess by only providing lip service to the emerging scenario and is only interested in elections as his visits to campaign for his party backed candidates saw Covid precautions being thrown to the winds. The entire campaign has seen wild rallies and group meetings,” said Andrade.
Andrade regrets that the leaders from the prime minister to Goa’s Chief Minister are hardly concerned that their election gatherings can spread COVID. “This has resulted in the confidence among the municipal election campaigners to use COVID precautions as a symbolic gesture rather than as a means to prevent the spread. The COVID SOPS are only for those lesser mortals who feel a social responsibility and not for those gangs of candidates involved in election propaganda" he said.
Xencor Polgi, an anti coal activist from Mormugao said that he is not against having municipal election or closing govt offices or machinery.
Polgi said, “Govt should put special SOPs during this municipal election such as only two members should be allowed with the candidates for campaigning, social distancing, wearing of masks, hand sanitization should be done strictly. Even the supporters could do their election campaigning via social media platforms which is much safer option,” he said
He pointed out that how one could one justify Chief Minister is visiting town and taking public meetings when COVID cases are on rise. “How people are supposed to take SOPs and safety measures seriously when the leader himself is seen participating in public meetings amid the spike in the COVID cases in Goa" he questioned.