New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Amid the rising concerns over the alarming surge in COVID-19 just ahead of the elections in five states, the Election Commission will today meet to take a call on whether to extend beyond January 15 the ban on public rallies, roadshows and corner meetings in the poll-bound states in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision will be taken based on inputs about the spread of the virus and its new variant Omicron, sources said. Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra along with other senior officials of the Election Commission will hold a series of virtual meetings with the Health Secretary, Chief Secretary and Chief Electoral Officers of poll-bound states. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan will also attend the meet.

To begin with, Chandra will take feedback from Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan who will brief the overall picture of Covid Cases in the country and measures taken, instructions issued to states to combat the surge of Covid-19 cases to Commission.

Announcing the schedule of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur on January 8, the panel had taken the unprecedented step of banning public rallies, roadshows and corner meetings till January 15 in view of the pandemic.

After that, Commissioner Sushil Chandra will meet with the Health Secretary and Chief Secretary of poll-bound five states. The last scheduled meeting is with Chief Electoral Officers of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa.

The Commission had also listed 16-point guidelines for campaigning as it banned 'nukkad sabhas' (corner meetings) on public roads and roundabouts, limited the number of persons allowed for the door-to-door campaign to five, including the candidate, and prohibited victory processions after the counting of votes.

In a press release on Friday, the EC said that considering the ongoing pandemic and enhanced relevance of non-contact-based campaign, it has, in consultation with Prasar Bharti Corporation, decided to double the broadcast/telecast time allotted to each national party and recognised state party of the five states.

Assembly polls in the five states will be held in seven phases between February 10 and March 7 and the counting of votes will be on March 10. Uttar Pradesh will go to the polls in seven phases on - February 10, 14, 27 and March 3 and 7 while Uttarkhand, Goa and Punjab will vote on February 14 in a single phase. Elections in Manipur will be held in two phases on February 27 and March 3.


(With Agencies Inputs)

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan