Media outlet Times Now on Saturday said that it is suspending its election results coverage for Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry on May 2, in view of the prevailing COVID-19 situation in India.
"Our nation faces its biggest health emergency in a centiry. Each one of us has now experienced the devastation and loss the pandemic has brought home or very close to it. And there is right indignance among citizens at large, that the second wave would have been better controlled had we avoided two of the mega risk events in the last two months, Kumbh Mela and elections in five states in normal campaigning mode," the media outlet said in a statement.
"While we acknowledge that the five state election results are of interest to our homebound viewers, we at Times Now, have decided to suspend our usual special election coverage on May 2. We will also refrain from covering poll related celebrations as a symbolic gesture of our disagreement with the untimeliness of this activity...we will keep COVID-19 as our main priority and focus on COVID related news reports, the latest on the progress of the universalised vaccination drive, information on helplines and interaction with healthcare and mental wellness experts," it further added. Times Now said that they would carry flash news updates on the counting and results on May 2.
India's Election News HQ, TIMES NOW suspends Counting Day coverage on May 2 to focus on COVID-19 pandemic. pic.twitter.com/KdrWY8ylrnâ€” TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) May 1, 2021
According to sources, the move comes as there is an overwhelming feeling in the newsroom that as Delhi and other places suffer, election coverage should not dominate the news wheel.
India's daily coronavirus tally crossed the grim milestone of four lakh, while the death toll rose to 2.11 lakh with 3,523 fresh fatalities, according to data updated by the Union Health Ministry on Saturday. The infection tally rose to 1.91 crore with 4,01,993 new cases, while the active cases crossed the 32-lakh mark, the data updated at 8 am showed.
Like many other organisations, Times Now also has had many of its employees or their families cotracting COVID-19. Over the past few days, all reporters and everyone on the desk have been working from home.
Last week, The New Indian Express released a statement stating that it was suspending its coverage of the ongoing Indian Premier League 2021 in view of the COVID-19 situation in India. The newspaper said this is a â€œsmall gesture towards keeping the nation's attention focused on life and death issues," in a letter from the editor that was published on the front page of the dailyâ€™s Sunday edition on April 25.
Meanwhile, exit polls which were published earlier this week forecast a tight contest between the incumbent Trinamool Congress and the BJP in the high-profile West Bengal Assembly polls and put the BJP alliance ahead in Assam, while projecting a win for the ruling Left alliance in Kerala and for the DMK-led opposition in Tamil Nadu.
The exit poll numbers were largely a setback for the Congress, which while falling short in Assam and Kerala may also lose its government in the union territory of Puducherry to the opposition alliance of AINRC-BJP-AIADMK.
With PTI inputs