Election Commission of India (File photo)

Election Commission of India (File photo)

Assembly polls: Election Commission continues ban on roadshows, rallies and processions

ECI grants more relaxation for physical public meetings

New Delhi, February 6, 2022

As the campaign continues for the elections to legislative assemblies in five states, to be held between February 19 and March 7, the Election Commission of India (ECI) today said that the ban on road shows, "padyatras", cycle, motorcycle and vehicle rallies and processions, imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19, would continue.

However, the Commission has granted further relaxations for physical public meetings in indoor and outdoor venues.

A press release from the ECI said the maximum number of persons permissible for door-to-door campaigning would continue to be 20.

The ban on campaigning between 8 pm and 8 am would also continue as before.

The restrictions regarding outdoor meetings, indoor meetings and rallies have been further relaxed, subject to the condition that the numbers at such events would be limited to a maximum of 50 per cent of the capacity of the indoor halls and 30 per cent of the open ground capacity, or as fixed by the District Election Officer as per requirement of the social distancing norms and whichever is less.

If the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) has set ceilings or percentages of the capacity for number of persons attending indoor hall or open ground and they are stricter, the SDMA guidelines will prevail.

Open ground rallies can be held only in the grounds specifically designated by the district authorities and subject to compliance of all the conditions of SDMA. Allocation of these grounds will be given equitably by District Administration through e-Suvidha portal on first come first serve basis. Capacities of these grounds will be fixed by the District Administration well in advance and notified to all the parties.

The release said there should be multiple entry and exit points so that there is no crowding as people are coming and leaving the venue. All entrances must have adequate hand hygiene and thermal screening provisions. Adequate number of hand sanitizers should be kept at entrance as well as within the rally area. Seating arrangement must ensure adequate physical distancing and use of masks at all times is mandatory.

Adequate manpower should be deployed/ arranged by the organizers to ensure observance to physical distancing norms, mask wearing and other preventive measures at all times.

In designated open ground meetings, people should be accommodated in adequate clusters and such clusters should be separated by separation arrangements. The organisers will ensure this arrangement and nodal officers will ensure compliance.

"The organisers and concerned political parties shall abide by all the above instructions and SDMA related guidelines and ensure Covid- appropriate behaviour by persons participating in meetings/rallies. Organisers will be responsible for any breach of the Covid-related protocols and guidelines," the release said.

District Magistrates (DMs) will nominate nodal officers to oversee the arrangements done by organisers and ensure compliance of the guidelines. DMs and Superintendents of Police (SPs) of the districts will ensure compliance of the instructions and Covid-appropriate behaviour and guidelines.

"It shall be overall responsibility of the DEO concerned to identify, notify and allot the designated spaces in advance for the aforesaid purposes," the release said.

"All remaining restrictions as contained in the Revised Broad Guidelines for Conduct of Elections, 2022 issued on 8 January 2022 shall continue to operate.

"Commission will review the situation periodically and take necessary decision for amendment in its guidelines, if any based on. ground level situation," it added.

The elections are being held in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur.

While announcing the schedule on January 8, the ECI had simultaneously announced restrictions on rallies, processions and other such forms campaigning, given the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country.

Since then, it has reviewed the situation periodically and, considering the fall in the number of cases, relaxed some of the restrictions on physical meetings adn door-to-door campaigning on January 15, January 22 and January 31.

Chief Secretaries of the poll-going States have written to the Commission and said that there has been a significant improvement in the prevailing COVID situation, a considerable decrease in the number of positive cases of COVID and also decrease in cases of hospitalization. Most of them have recommended to the Commission a further relaxation in the restrictions.

The Commission also took inputs and views from the Special Observers appointed by it for the election-bound States. The observers have also reported that the COVID-19 situation had improved substantially.

They have also stated that coverage of vaccination in the states is very satisfactory for the 1st Dose, 2nd Dose and Precaution Dose to frontline workers and poll duty officials. In this light, they have recommended that the Commission may consider revisiting the existing campaign guidelines and permit further relaxation in the campaign norms to ensure greater participation in the ongoing election process. Most of them recommended an increase in the limit of the number of people allowed to attend the rallies in open/indoor space to about 50% and not limiting it to a number.

The Commission also held a meeting with the Union Health Secretary on February 5 before issuing the latest revised guidelines today.

The Health Secretary told the Commission that the numbers of COVID-19 cases are fast receding in the country and that, out of them, more caes are reported from the non-poll-going states.

He said the peak numbers had been reached on January 21-22 and since they are fast receding. He also said the vaccination coverage was also very satisfactory.

The Commission also noticed that states are also announcing more relaxations in the restrictions, such as opening of schools and colleges.


Related Stories

No stories found.

Latest Stories

No stories found.

Trending Stories

No stories found.