Amid Pandemic The Ban On Political Rallies Extended Till January 22

Election Commission

New Delhi: As the country is witnessing a spike in the covid cases, the ban on election rallies has been extended. The ban will now end on January 22 the Election Commission said on Saturday. The ban on rallies and roadshows ahead of elections in five states was imposed last week.

With capacity of 300 people, indoor political meetings will be permitted. Capacity limit is also subjected to, 50 per cent of the hall's capacity, or the limit set by the state's disaster management authority. Political parties must take up responsibility for the enforcement of rules, which include social distancing and use of face masks.

On January 8 the top poll body had said rallies, roadshows, and other kinds of political events, indoors and outdoors, would be banned till January 15 (today), and that the order would then be reviewed.

The Election Commission held meetings and reviewed the situation. The meetings were held with, Union Health Secretary at 11 am, Chief and Health Secretaries of all poll-bound states at noon, and Chief Election Officers at 1 pm.

The order banning rallies and roadshows was passed as part of a 16-point list aimed at holding polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, and Manipur as safely as possible.

Included in that list of 'no-no' activities were the holding of nukkad sabhas, or roadside meets, and limiting the number of people for door-to-door campaigning.

Yesterday, however, Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party came under the poll body's scanner after massive crowds gathered for the induction of two ex-BJP ministers - Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini, as well as six other MLAs.

Videos showed hundreds gathered - a majority wore no masks and did not maintain social distance.

UP Police have filed a FIR against 2,500 individuals; a senior Lucknow district officer told PTI "prima facie, there was violation... investigations are underway". A notice was pasted at the party office.

Today Yadav said: "I appeal to (all) to abide by Covid protocols when they come to (our) office."

Elections in UP, Punjab, Goa, Manipur, and Uttarakhand are being held amid a frightening surge in Covid cases across the country, including in some of the poll-bound states.


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