The Press Club of India’s election is done and dusted, but the rival groups continue to go at each other. Currently they are blaming each other for a coronavirus outbreak at the club.
Soon after the April 10 election returned the running of the club to the incumbent administrators, several people who participated in the exercise were revealed to have been infected by the virus. They included Umakant Lakhera, the new president; Vinay Kumar, the new general secretary; MMC Sharma, who oversaw the conduct of the election. Nearly 1,400 people had voted in the election.
It is now being alleged that Lakhera had contracted coronavirus before the election but nonetheless came to canvas and vote at the club, causing it to become a “hotspot”.
We weren’t able to speak with Lakhera about this allegation, but Vinay Kumar refuted it.
“I quarantined on April 8. And even before that I had visited the press club for only a couple of hours. I didn’t campaign nor vote, nor did I go there on the day of the result,” he said. "As far as Lakhera is concerned, whatever is being shared about him is wrong. Actually a man named Vipin Dhule constantly kept visiting the press club. He was later found to be infected with the virus, after which Lakhera got a fever and a body ache. He got himself tested. On April 7, he stopped coming to the club. His test result came in the afternoon on election day. But earlier in the day he had done a rapid antigen test which came negative. That is why he came and cast his vote. Only after he had reached did he received the other report which showed him positive. He has been at home since.”
Sharma, head of the press club's election commission, tested positive after the result was declared. Speaking to Newslaundry, he said, "Since I was the chief election officer, most people came to me with complaints. There were 10 people in my team. I was checking if people were maintaining social distancing. Being an election officer, I did not even roam in the press club. I stayed in my office throughout. On April 11, when I had a mild fever, I got myself tested and I was found positive.”
Sharma added that he alone in his team had tested positive.
The election was held after coronavirus cases had started surging in the capital, and despite calls to postpone it. On the day of the election, Delhi would record 7,897 new infections and 39 deaths.