In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic situation, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had extended the ban on political roadshows and rallies in all poll-bound states till February 11. However, the commission has allowed some relaxation to the restrictions in the place by increasing the number of people allowed at meetings and election campaigning.
The number of people permitted for physical public meetings of political parties has increased from 500 to 1,000. This rule will be effective from February 1 for all phases of the five assembly elections. Instead of 10 persons, the Election Commission has now allowed 20 persons for door-to-door campaigns, excluding security personnel. All other restrictions on padayatra (foot march), cycle, bike or vehicle rallies will continue to remain banned until February 11. To review the current situation of Covid-19 infection and projected trends the Election Commission has met with the health and electoral officials from five states going to polls.
"All the State Chief secretaries informed the Commission about reports of Covid 19 infection either plateauing out or tapering as on date. They also said that the positivity rate is showing a decline with the number of hospitalisation cases also registering a declining trend," a release from the EC said, adding that state officers suggested continuing Covid precautions. Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said that while deliberating the relaxations, the practicality of implementation of orders by field level functionaries should be ensured in the wake of the prevailing situation.
“Political parties and contesting candidates shall ensure the compliance of Covid-appropriate behaviour and guidelines and model code of conduct at all occasions during the activities connected with elections,” the ECI statement said.