New Delhi: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Saturday extended the ban on the physical rallies and roadshows till January 22, however, it has allowed the political parties to hold indoor meetings of a maximum of 300 persons or 50 per cent of the capacity of the hall or the prescribed limit set by State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA).
The decision came after the Election Commission held separate virtual meetings with the Union Health Secretary, Chief Secretaries and Health Secretaries of Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, as also the Chief Electoral Officers of these five poll-bound states.
The Commission has decided that there would be no roadshow, Pad-yatra, cycle, bike or vehicle rally, procession, a physical rally of any political parties or candidates (including probable) or any other group related to election shall be allowed till January 22, and the Commission will subsequently review the situation and issue further instructions accordingly after the said date.
Earlier after announcing the poll schedule, the EC had banned these activities till January 15.
The political parties have been asked to ensure the compliance of COVID appropriate behaviour and guidelines and Model Code of Conduct (MCC) at all occasions during the activities connected with elections, the ECI said, adding that all remaining restrictions as contained in the Revised Broad Guidelines for Conduct of Elections, 2022 issued on January 8, 2022, shall continue to operate.
All concerned State and District authorities shall ensure full compliance with these instructions.
During the meeting, the Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra along with Election Commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey accompanied by Secretary-General and concerned Deputy Election Commissioners held a comprehensive review of the present status and projected trends of the COVID pandemic with a special focus on the five poll going states. Vaccination status and action plan for expeditiously completing vaccination for first, second and booster dose for eligible persons amongst Frontline workers and polling personnel were also reviewed.
The Commission also discussed SDMA's restrictions and state-specific extant guidelines regulating the norms of gathering of persons during the period of the pandemic.