New Delhi, Jan 15 (MNN) The election panel on Saturday extended till January 22 the ban imposed on public rallies, road shows, padyatras, cycle and motorcycle and vehicle rallies and processions in five states going to Assembly elections in view of increasing coronavirus infections.
However, the Election Commission of India granted relaxation for political parties to hold indoor meetings of maximum of 300 persons or 50 per cent of the hall capacity or limits set by State Disaster Management Authorities.
On January 8 while announcing the election schedule for these states in seven phases spread over January-March period, the election panel had said that rallies were banned till January 15.
The decision to extend the ban by another week came after the ECI held separate virtual meetings with Union Health Ministry officials and Chief Secretaries and Health Secretaries of Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, as well as Chief Electoral Officers of these five states.
Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra along with Election Commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey accompanied by Secretary General and Deputy Election Commissioners concerned held a comprehensive review of present status and projected trends on pandemic with special focus on five states.
Vaccination status and action plan for expeditiously completing vaccination for 1st, 2nd and booster dose for eligible persons among frontline workers and polling personnel was also reviewed.
The election panel also discussed SDMAs restrictions and state-specific extant guidelines regulating the norms of public gatherings during pandemic.
After considering the present situation, facts and circumstances as also inputs received in these meetings, the Commission directed that road shows, foot marches, vehicle rallies and processions shall not be allowed till January 22.
The Commission will subsequently review the situation and issue further instructions accordingly.
No physical rallies by political parties and candidates (including probable) or any other group related to elections shall be allowed till January 22.
Political parties shall ensure compliance with 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.
All state/district authorities concerned shall ensure full compliance of these instructions.