The Election Commission on Saturday banned rallies and roadshows in the five election-going States, but allowed political parties to hold indoor meetings of up to 300 people or 50% of the venue’s capacity.
While announcing the poll schedule for Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand on January 8, the EC had banned all physical rallies, roadshows, padyatras, processions and vehicle rallies in view of the rising COVID-19 cases. Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra had said the ban would be till Saturday, when it would be reviewed.
On Saturday, the EC held virtual meetings with the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry and Chief Electoral Officers, chief secretaries and health secretaries of the five poll-bound States. The three-member Commission held a “comprehensive review of present status and projected trends of COVID pandemic with special focus in the five poll going States”, an EC statement said.
The progress of the vaccination drives and plans to complete first, second and booster doses for frontline workers was also reviewed. The EC also took into consideration the State Disaster Management Authorities’ (SDMAs) restrictions and state-specific guidelines on gathering of people.
The EC decided to continue the ban on roadshows, padyatras, cycle /bike/ vehicle rallies, processions and rallies by political parties and candidates till January 22, when it would review the decision again.
“However, the Commission has granted relaxation for the political parties to the extent that indoor meetings of maximum 300 persons or 50% of the capacity of the hall or the prescribed limit set by SDMA will be allowed,” the EC statement read.
The EC said political parties would have to ensure compliance of COVID-appropriate behaviour and the Model Code of Conduct. All other restrictions and guidelines announced on January 8 would continue to apply, the EC said, adding that the State and district authorities would ensure compliance.