Assembly polls: ECI allows padayatras, reduces campaign ban period

According to the poll panel, election campaign can now be conducted between 6 am and 10 pm instead of earlier 8 am to 8 pm.

At the end of campaign in two states — Goa and Uttarakhand and two phases of election in Uttar Pradesh the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced further relaxation in campaign guidelines citing the reduction in COVID-19 cases.

The campaign timings have relaxed from 8 pm to 8 am before to 10:00 pm to 6:00 am, providing political parties an additional four hours a day.

The ECI has also lifted ban on road shows, pad yatras and processions. “Padayatra consisting not more than permitted number of persons as per SDMA limitations and only with prior permission of district authorities will also be allowed,” the Commission said.

The Commission also lifted the restrictions on public meetings and rallies. Till now, indoor/outdoor meetings/rallies were allowed  to maximum of 50% of the capacity of Indoor halls and 30% of the open ground capacity or as per state authorities direction. But now for outdoors the capacity has increased to 50%.

The next five phases of elections in Uttar Pradesh has many crucial assembly constituencies including Karhal where Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav and Yogu Adityanath’s Gorakhpur. Lucknow, Allahabad, Rae Bareilly and Amethi are also in these five phases.

The ECI in its statement said that the ground situation of COVID has significantly improved and the cases are fast receding in the country". It further claimed that even in the reported cases maximum cases are reported from non-poll going States. All India figures as per EC are fast receding from around 3.47 Lakh on 21 January to just about 50 thousand as on today.

“Especially in the Poll going states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa total number of cases which were more than 32 thousand at peak on January 22,2022 have come down to around 3 thousand on 12th February,” ECI said in the statement.

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