The Election Commission on Monday extended the ban on the road shows, padyatras, cycle/bike/vehicle rallies till February 1, in view of the Covid-19 situation, particularly in the poll-bound states of Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh.
However, it has decided to allow physical public meetings of parties or candidates in designated open spaces with a maximum of 1,000 persons (instead of existing 500) or 50 per cent of the ground capacity or the prescribed limit set by State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), whichever is lesser, from February 1, for all phases.
The poll panel has also enhanced the limit for door to door campaigning, with now 20 persons, excluding security personnel, allowed, instead of 10 so far. Other instructions will continue,the officials added.
The Commission has also now granted relaxation for parties to the extent that indoor meetings now can have a maximum of 500 persons (instead of existing 300) or 50 per cent of the hall capacity or the prescribed limit set by the SDMA while the parties/ candidates shall ensure the compliance of Covid appropriate behaviour and guidelines and Model Code of Conduct at all occasions during activities connected with elections.
All remaining restrictions, as contained in the Revised Broad Guidelines for Conduct of Elections, 2022 issued on January 8, shall continue to operate, the EC said in a statement.
According to the EC officials, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, along with Election Commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey, on Monday held another comprehensive review of the present situation of Covid-19, particularly in the poll-bound states.
The Commission, accompanied by Secretary General and Deputy Election Commissioners, met the Union Health Secretary and the Chief Secretaries and the Chief Electoral Officers of the five poll-bound states, through virtual mode, to assess the present status and projected trends of the pandemic.
“In-depth discussions were also held with respect to current vaccination status of first and second doses for eligible persons in the respective states as also arrangements for polling personnel,” the officials said.
All the Chief Secretaries informed the Commission about their states’ Covid situation and how the positivity rate is showing a decline with the number of hospitalisation cases also coming down. They, however, said that Covid protocol precautions need to be continued to be observed so that no undue spurt takes place due to intense public contact because of heightened political activity.