EC extends poll rallies ban till Jan 31

| | New Delhi
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EC extends poll rallies ban till Jan 31

Sunday, 23 January 2022 | PNS | New Delhi

EC extends poll rallies ban till Jan 31

Public meetings with 500 people for Ph 1 allowed from January 28

Amid the third wave of Covid-19 in the country, the Election Commission (EC) on Saturday extended the ban on physical political rallies, roadshows, pad-yatras, cycle and bike rallies and processions till January 31 in five poll-bound States — Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Punjab and Uttarakhand. 

This is the second time the commission has extended the ban after the first one was announced on January 15 and the second on January 22. The poll panel also increased the five-person limit for door-to-door campaigning to 10 and allowed video vans for publicity at designated open spaces with coronavirus restrictions.

“No roadshow, padyatra, cycle/bike/vehicle rally and procession shall be allowed till January 31, 2022,” the EC said. The decision was taken following a virtual meeting to take stock of the Covid-19 situation with all stakeholders, including the Union Health Secretary, Chief Electoral Officers, Chief Secretaries, and State Health Secretaries of the five poll-bound States.

“Since contesting candidates for Phase 1 elections will be finalised on January 28, 2022, the commission has decided to allow physical public meetings of political parties or contesting candidates in designated open spaces with a maximum of 500 people or 50 per cent of the capacity of the ground or the prescribed limit set by State Disaster Management Authorities, whichever number is lesser, from January 28, 2022, till February 8, 2022 (excluding the silence period),” it added.

The EC said that limit of five persons for door to door campaign has been enhanced to 10 people, excluding security personnel and video vans for publicity permitted at designated open spaces with Covid restrictions.

Other instructions on door-to-door campaigns will continue.

“Since contesting candidates for Phase 2 elections will be finalised on January 31, 2022, Commission has decided to allow physical public meetings of Political parties or contesting candidates in designated open spaces with a maximum of 500 people or 50 per cent of the capacity of the ground, whichever number is lesser, from February 1, 2022, till February 12, 2022 (excluding the silence period),” it said.

The EC Commission has already granted relaxation for the political parties to the extent that indoor meetings of a maximum of 300 people or 50% of the capacity of the hall. The poll panel has also allowed video vans for publicity with usual Covid restrictions at designated open spaces with a maximum of 500 viewers or 50 per cent of the capacity or the limit prescribed by SDMA, whichever is lesser, in the poll going States subject to public convenience and no hindrance to smooth flow of traffic.

In view of the rapidly spreading Covid-19 cases, the poll regulating body had earlier announced a complete moratorium on physical roadshows and rallies till January 15, which was later extended till January 22.  With the ban in place, political parties had been urged to hold virtual and digital campaigning on various social media platforms. This comes a day after the filing of nomination papers for phase one of the elections for 58 Assembly segments in 11 districts of western UP started.

The EC has urged political parties and contesting candidates to ensure the compliance of Covid appropriate behavior & guidelines and Model Code of Conduct at all occasions during the activities connected with elections.

 

“It shall be the responsibility of the DEO concerned to identify and to notify the designated spaces in advance for the aforesaid purposes,” it said.

The Commission also reviewed vaccination status and action plan for expeditiously completing vaccination for 1st, 2nd, and booster doses for eligible persons amongst polling personnel. Commission deliberated on relaxing restrictions for physical rallies in the wake of the prevailing situation. After taking into consideration inputs and ground reports from these officers, Commission also deliberated on requirements of the campaign period in phases where the candidate list will be finalised on January 27, 2022, for Phase I and on January 31, 2022, for Phase 2.

As far as vaccination is concerned, Uttar Pradesh which currently has 98,238 active Covid cases has inoculated 96% of its population with the first dose in the 18 plus category. Uttarakhand has vaccinated 99% of its population with the first dose and 84% with the second dose. Goa has vaccinated 98% of its population above 18 years of age with a second dose of the vaccine.

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