March 21, 2023

EC extends ban on roadshows, rallies till January 22 | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Saturday extended its ban on physical rallies, roadshows and processions by political parties and candidates till January 22 in the five poll-bound states, but allowed a small window for in-person campaigning in indoor spaces, subject to maximum of 300 participants.
EC, which was briefed on the present status and projected trends of the pandemic during separate online meetings on Saturday with the Union health secretary, chief secretaries and chief electoral officers of the poll-bound states, also asked the states concerned, particularly Punjab, Manipur and Uttar Pradesh, to improve their vaccination rates further before it reviews the ban on rallies next week.
An EC statement issued after the meeting said physical rallies of political parties or candidates, including the probable ones, or any other group related to the elections shall not be allowed till January 22.
Also, the ban on roadshows, padyatras and cycle/bike/vehicle rallies stays for another week. However, the commission, which was recently approached by Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM for a small window of physical campaign for parties with lesser resources and digital presence, has allowed indoor meetings of a maximum of 300 persons or 50% of capacity of the hall or the prescribed limit set by the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), whichever is lower.
A senior EC functionary told TOI that the logic behind allowing small public gatherings in closed spaces is that access control in indoor venues can be regulated better as compared to open grounds.
It will be easier for the organisers to regulate the count of people entering the venue and enforce social distancing, unlike meetings in outdoor spaces where people are constantly entering and leaving, in EC’s view.
On Friday, poll panel had asked parties to keep their election activities in line with its Covid norms, model code and extant disaster management guidelines.
EC, while reviewing the curbs on physical campaigns, took into consideration the vaccination status, weekly positivity rate and recovery graph of Covid cases in poll-bound states.

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