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Election Commission extends ban on physical rallies till Jan 31

New Delhi, January 22

The Election Commission (EC) today extended till January 31 the ban on physical rallies and roadshows in the five poll-bound states, but allowed public meetings with a maximum of 500 persons in constituencies going to polls during the first two phases.

The rules for door-to-door campaign have also been relaxed as now 10 persons, excluding security personnel, will be allowed instead of five. Video vans for publicity have been permitted at designated open spaces with Covid restrictions.

The relaxation for public meetings will be applicable from January 28 for the phase-1 polls (February 10) and from February 1 for the second phase (February 14). Such public meetings could be organised by political parties or candidates in designated open spaces with a maximum of 500 persons or 50 per cent of the capacity of the ground or prescribed limit set by the State Disaster Management Authority, whichever number was lesser, the poll panel said.

Earlier, the EC had granted a relaxation for political parties to hold indoor meetings with maximum 300 persons or 50 per cent of the capacity of the hall.

The decision came following a review meeting the EC held today with the Union Health Secretary, Chief Secretaries, Chief Electoral Officers and Health Secretaries of poll-bound Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Manipur.

Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra along with Election Commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey and other poll officials reviewed the situation with respect to status and projected Covid trends in the five states, the EC said in a statement.

Announcing the dates for elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur on January 8, the poll panel had announced a ban on physical rallies, roadshows and bike rallies and similar campaign events till January 15. On January 15, the commission extended the ban until January 22. The poll panel will now review the situation on January 31.

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