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EC Bans Physical Campaigning In West Bengal; Exempts Public Gatherings Upto 500 People

Permission for bike rallies, roadshows & meetings with gatherings of over 500 stands withdrawn.

The Election Commission of India, in a notice issued on Thursday evening, banned physical campaigning in West Bengal starting 7 pm today.  Public gatherings, however, have been exempted for up to 500 people and only in places “subject to availability of adequate space with social distancing, adhering to COVID-19 norms”

This comes after the EC and other political parties were under heavy criticism for continuing with large-scale rallies in the elections bound states amidst a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases. The notice further said that the Commission “noted with anguish that many political parties/candidates are still not adhering to prescribed safety norms during public gatherings.”

Election Commission Delhi HC, Rally Mask
Home Minister Amit Shah during his roadshow.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he would be chairing high-level COVID-19 meetings tomorrow and hence wouldn’t be going to West Bengal, effectively bringing his campaign in Bengal to an end.

Also Read: Too Little, Too Late? With Just 2 Phases Left, PM Modi Cancels West Bengal Rallies

Notably, Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and Congress MP Rahul Gandhi have also canceled all their rallies amid the alarming spike in coronavirus cases across the country. The BJP, a couple of days back, had decided to limit its gatherings to 500 people, with President JP Nadda asking party workers to ensure the distribution of 60 million sanitizers and masks in West Bengal.

India recorded 3,14,835 cases and 2401 deaths on Thursday, a single-day spike since the beginning of the pandemic. Meanwhile, West Bengal saw a steep spike with 10000 cases and 58 deaths in the last 24 hours.

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