New Delhi: The Election Commission of India on Saturday extended the ban imposed on physical rallies and roadshows till January 31. However, it has announced relaxations pertaining to physical public meetings, video vans, and door-to-door campaigning by political parties.
The decision comes as Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra held a series of virtual meetings with the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; Chief Secretaries and Health Secretaries of Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh; and also the Chief Electoral Officers of these five states going polls.
On Saturday, the Election Commission announced the following decisions in a statement,
- No roadshow, Pad-yatra, cycle/bike/vehicle rally, and procession shall be allowed till January 31, 2022.
- Since contesting candidates for Phase 1 elections will be finalized on January 27, 2022, the Commission has decided to allow physical meetings of concerned political parties or contesting candidates in designated open spaces with a maximum of 500 persons or 50% of the capacity of the ground or the prescribed limit set by SDMA, whichever number is lesser, from January 28, 2022 till February 8, 2022 (excluding the silence period).
- Since contesting candidates for Phase 2 elections will be finalized on January 31 2022, the Commission has decided to allow physical meetings of the political parties or contesting candidates with public in designated open spaces with a maximum of 500 persons or 50% of the capacity of the ground or the prescribed limit set by SDMA, whichever number is lesser, from February 1, 2022 till February 12, 2022 (excluding the silence period).
- The Commission has also enhanced the limit of the door-to-door campaigns. Instead of 5 persons, now 10 persons, excluding security personnel, will be allowed for door-to-door campaigns. Other instructions on door-to-door campaigns will continue.
- The Commission has already granted relaxation for the political parties to the extent that indoor meetings of a maximum of 300 persons or 50% of the capacity of the hall or the prescribed limit set by SDMA is allowed.
- The Commission has also allowed video vans for publicity with usual COVID restrictions at designated open spaces with a maximum of 500 viewers or 50% of the capacity or the limit set by SDMA, whichever number is lesser, in the poll going States subject to public convenience and no hindrance to smooth flow of traffic.
- All remaining restrictions as contained in the Revised Broad Guidelines for Conduct of Elections, 2022 issued on January 8, 2022 shall continue to operate.
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Ban On Election Rallies, Public Meetings
While announcing the schedule of assembly elections in five states, the Election Commission had banned all poll rallies and public meetings till January 15.
At the press conference, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra had urged political parties to shift to a digital mode of campaigning and announced the doubling of air time allocated to political parties on public broadcaster Doordarshan for electioneering.
The ban on public meetings was then extended till January 22 in view of the COVID-19 situation. However, the ECI granted relaxation for the political parties to hold indoor meetings with a maximum of 300 persons or 50 per cent of the capacity of the hall or the prescribed limit set by the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA).
While announcing the poll schedule earlier this month, the ECI also banned ‘nukkad sabhas’ (corner meetings) on public roads and roundabouts while limiting the number of persons allowed for the door-to-door campaign to five, including the candidate.
The commission has prohibited victory celebrations after counting of votes, stating that only two persons would be allowed to accompany the candidate to collect the winning certificate.
“The Commission will not hesitate to bar parties from further rallies if the COVID protocol is not followed,” Sushil Chandra had said.
It was further informed that the polling time has been increased by one hour and the number of electors per polling station has been reduced to 1,250 from 1,500.
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