Assembly polls: ECI extends ban on physical rallies and roadshows till January 31
New Delhi, January 22, 2022
The Election Commission of India today extended the ban on roadshows, marches, rallies and processions till January 31 in the five states going to the polls in February-March to elect new legislative assemblies in view of the high numbers of COVID-19 still being reported in many parts of the country.
The five states -- Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur -- are slated to go to the polls between February 10 and March 7.
Since contesting candidates for Phase 1 elections will be finalised on January 27, the Commission has decided to allow physical meetings of the political parties concerned 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 the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), whichever number is lesser, from January 28 till February 8 (excluding the silence period).
Similarly, since contesting candidates for Phase 2 elections will be finalised on January 31, the Commission has decided to allow physical meetings, with the same conditions, from February 1 till February 12.
The Commission has also enhanced the limit of door-to-door campaign. Instead of five persons, now ten persons, excluding security personnel, will be allowed for door-to-door campaigns. Other instructions on door to door campaigns will continue.
The Commission had earlier 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. (Instructions in this regard are being sent to the CEOs separately).
An official press release said political parties and contesting candidates shall ensure the compliance of COVID-appropriate behaviour and guidelines and the 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.
"All remaining restrictions as contained in the Revised Broad Guidelines for Conduct of Elections, 2022 issued on January 8, 2022 shall continue to operate.
"All concerned State/District authorities shall ensure full compliance of these instructions.
"The Commission will review these instructions at a subsequent date," the release added.
Today's decision came after the Commission held review meeting with the Secretary, Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, through video-conferencing. It also held virtual meeting with the 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 the vaccination status and action plan for expeditiously completing vaccination for 1st, 2nd and booster dose for eligible persons amongst polling personnel.
The Commission deliberated on relaxing restrictions for physical rallies in the wake of prevailing situation.
After taking into consideration inputs and ground reports from these officers, the Commission also deliberated on requirements of the campaign period in phases where candidate list will be finalised on January 27 for Phase 1 and on January 31 for Phase 2.