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Ban On Political Rallies Amid Pandemic Likely To Be Extended: Sources

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Five states – UP, Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand, and Punjab – will vote between Feb 10 and March 7 (File)

New Delhi:

The ban on rallies and roadshows forward of elections in 5 states – imposed final week as Covid instances spike alarmingly – has been prolonged until January 22, the Election Commission mentioned Saturday.

Indoor political conferences, although, will be allowed topic to a cap of 300 individuals, 50 per cent of the corridor’s capability, or the restrict set by the state’s catastrophe administration authority..

On January eight the highest ballot physique had mentioned rallies, roadshows, and different kinds of political occasions, indoors and open air, could be banned until January 15 (right now), and that the order would then be reviewed.

Today the Election Commission held a sequence of conferences – with the Union Health Secretary at 11 am, Chief and Health Secretaries of all poll-bound states at midday, and Chief Election Officers at 1 pm.

The order banning rallies and roadshows was handed as a part of an inventory of measures geared toward holding polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, and Manipur as safely as attainable.

Included in that checklist of ‘no-no’ actions have been the holding of nukkad sabhas, or roadside conferences, and limiting the variety of individuals allowed for door-to-door campaigning.

“Candidates ought to conduct marketing campaign by means of digital mode as a lot as attainable… There will probably be no nukkad sabhas on public roads and no victory procession after counting,” Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra mentioned final week.

Elections in UP, Punjab, Goa, Manipur, and Uttarakhand are being held amid a daunting surge in Covid instances throughout the nation, together with in a number of the poll-bound states.

UP reported an enormous 1,300 per cent enhance in Covid infections within the first week of this month, whereas 16 of Punjab’s 22 districts have positivity charges over 5 per cent, which is the hazard degree.

UP has seen its energetic caseload spike to just about 90,000, whereas Punjab, Goa, Manipur, and Uttarakhand have seen their energetic instances enhance to over 60,000 between them.

Medical consultants and civil society teams, in addition to the Allahabad High Court had known as for polls to be deferred, however the ballot physique mentioned it was constitutionally sure maintain elections in a “timely” method.

Elections have been held in Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry this time final yr, the place many have been with out face masks as they attended rallies led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and different political leaders, the place social distancing was absent.

That was simply earlier than the devastating second wave hit India.

With reminiscences of that in thoughts, considerations had been raised that marketing campaign occasions may as soon as once more change into super-spreaders, significantly with the Omicron variant now driving infections.

The first section of Assembly elections this yr will start on February 10 and proceed until March 7, with all 5 outcomes due on March 10. 

This morning India reported over 2.68 lakh new Covid instances in 24 hours, taking the energetic caseload to over 14 lakh – a degree not breached since June 1.

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