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EC extends ban on physical rallies, road shows till Jan 31

The Election Commission today extended a ban on physical rallies and road shows till 31st of this month. The Commission today held a review meeting with the Union Health Secretary through virtual mode. The Commission also held virtual meetings with Chief Secretaries, Chief Electoral Officers and Health Secretaries of Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra along with Election Commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey accompanied by Secretary General and concerned Deputy Election Commissioners held a comprehensive review of the present situation with respect to status and projected trends of COVID pandemic in the five poll going states. The Commission also reviewed Vaccination status and action plan for expeditiously completing vaccination for 1st, 2nd and booster dose for eligible persons among polling personnel. The Commission deliberated on relaxing restrictions for physical rallies in the wake of prevailing situation.

After considering the present situation, facts and circumstances as also the inputs received in these meetings, the Commission has decided that no road show, Pad-yatra, cycle or bike or vehicle rally and procession shall be allowed till 31st of this month.

The Poll Body said, since contesting candidates for Phase 1 elections will be finalised on 27th of this month, 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 per cent of the capacity of the ground or the prescribed limit set by State Disaster Management Authorities SDMA, whichever number is lesser, from 28th January till 8th February excluding the silence period.

It said, since contesting candidates for Phase 2 elections will be finalised on 31st of this month, Commission has decided to allow physical meetings of concerned Political parties or contesting candidates with public in designated open spaces with a maximum of 500 persons or 50 per cent of the capacity of the ground or the prescribed limit set by SDMA, whichever number is lesser, from 1st February till 12th February excluding the silence period.

The Commission has also enhanced the limit of door to door campaign. 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 per cent of the capacity of the hall or the prescribed limit set by SDMA is allowed. The Election Commission 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 set by SDMA, whichever number is lesser, in the poll going States subject to public convenience and no hindrance to smooth flow of traffic. Instructions in this regard are being sent to the Chief Electoral Officers separately. The Poll Body said, Political parties and contesting candidates shall ensure the compliance of COVID appropriate behaviour and guidelines and Model Code of Conduct at all occasions during the activities connected with elections.

The Commission said, it shall be the responsibility of the District Election Officer concerned to identify and to notify the designated spaces in advance. All remaining restrictions as contained in the Revised Broad Guidelines for Conduct of Elections, 2022 issued on 8th January shall continue to operate. All concerned State and District authorities shall ensure full compliance of these instructions.

The Commission said, it will review these instructions at a subsequent date.

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