March 24, 2023

Poll curbs may be eased as EC to review ban on rallies today | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Amid improving vaccination status and declining graph of daily Covid cases in the poll-bound states, the Election Commission will on Monday review its ban on big political rallies and roadshows after hearing the assessment of the health ministry and respective state governments.
Sources told TOI that the commission is likely to further ease the restrictions on physical campaign in view of the acceleration in vaccination rates in the poll-going states, with even UP having achieved 99% coverage of Dose 1. However, the quantum of relaxations to be given will depend on inputs from the health secretary as well as the chief secretaries and chief electoral officers of the states concerned.
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The likely options before EC include raising the limit of persons who can attend the political rallies in open grounds beyond 500 to the existing SDMA limit in respective states/districts. While physical rallies subject to a cap of 500 persons or 50% of the ground capacity or SDMA limit, whichever is lesser, was allowed by EC on January 22 for Phase 1 polling due on February 10, a similar relaxation will be allowed from Tuesday for constituencies going to polls in Phase 2 due on February 14.
EC will also weigh if similar relaxations are to be allowed only for a few more phases or for all the remaining phases.
While 58 assembly constituencies will vote in the first phase on February 10, 55 seats in UP and the whole of Goa and Uttarakhand will go to polls on February 14. On January 22, EC had extended the ban on full-fledged physical rallies, roadshows, padyatras and vehicle rallies until January 31 but allowed in-person public meetings with maximum 500 persons or up to 50% of the ground capacity or extant SDMA limit, whichever is less, between January 28 and February 8 in constituencies going to polls in the first phase and between February 1 and 12 for 55 constituencies in UP and the whole of Goa and Uttarakhand.
While allowing physical meetings in the open for initial two phases earlier, EC had gone by two factors – the vaccination coverage in poll-bound states, which has been showing improvement since, as well as hospitalisation rates, which continue to be in check in the poll-bound states.

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