The ban on roadshows and rallies for next month’s state polls was extended till the end of this month on Saturday by the Election Commission but with certain relaxations for the first two phases of voting due on February 10 and 14.
The decision came after the election body held a meeting earlier in the day with the Union Health Secretary and the Chief Health Secretaries of the five states to review the restrictions given the surge in coronavirus cases.
The Election Commission had banned election rallies and roadshows until January 15 first and later extended the curbs till January 22 for the five states holding elections from next month – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa.
However, this time, the election poll body has allowed relaxations for physical public meetings of political parties or contesting candidates for Phase 1 from January 28 and for Phase 2 from February 1.
It said that the limit of five people for door-to-door campaigning has been raised to 10, excluding security personnel and video vans for publicity permitted at certain open spaces with COVID-19 restrictions.
Since contesting candidates for Phase 1 elections will be finalised on January 27, the Commission has decided to allow physical meetings in designated open spaces with up to 500 people or 50 per cent of the ground’s capacity or the prescribed limit set by state disaster management – whichever is lower, from January 28 till February 8.
And for Phase 2, contesting candidates for which will be finalised by January 31, the Commission has decided to allow the same relaxation from February 1 till February 12.
India reported 3.37 lakh new COVID-19 cases – nearly 10,000 more than yesterday – and 488 deaths in the last 24 hours. The positivity rate stood at 17.22 per cent.