Following an improvement in the coronavirus pandemic scenario, the Election Commission of India relaxed the prohibition on participation at campaign rallies and roadshows on Tuesday.
According to the electoral body, the rule of using just 50% of the available area for such meetings is being eased, subject to prior consent from state disaster management authorities (SDMAs).
The campaigning for various states in phases is going on. The two-phase Manipur assembly elections and phases five, six, and seven of the Uttar Pradesh elections are underway.
However, elections in states such as Goa, Punjab, and Uttarakhand have ended. The counting of the votes will begin from March 10 onwards in all five states.
Previously this year, EC implemented a slew of restrictions on campaigning for the assembly polls in all five of the states mentioned previously. These limits were implemented as the aftermath of a significant increase in the Covid-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant of the virus by the commission.
The EC stated that it undertook a periodic assessment of the pandemic’s condition throughout the country, particularly in states where elections occur.
According to the report, the Union Health Secretary notified the Election Commission that Covid-19 cases had already decreased dramatically (3.47 lakh on January 21 to around 13,400 infections on February 22).
“Even among documented cases, the majority of cases are from non-poll-going states,” was informed by the EC.
“Particularly in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur polling states, the number of cases, which was more than 16.7 thousand at its peak on January 22, 2022, has decreased to only around 500 instances on February 22, 2022,” it further stated. Given the improvement in the circumstances, the commission decided to ease campaigning prohibitions with an immediate effect.
When the EC issued the vote schedule for Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab, and Manipur on January 8, they had put a ban on physical rallies, roadshows, and padayatra, stating an increase in Covid instances.
As per the EC’s guidelines released on Sunday, the increase in the number of star campaigners has also increased, from 30 to 40 for the main- national and state political parties, whereas for the other parties, a total of 20-star campaigners can be considered, from the previous total of 15.
Parties can submit the new names of the star campaigners by February 23, 2022, by P.M. and can further start campaigning from the fifth phase onwards.
Edited by- Subbuthai Padma
Published by- Radhika Nayak