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Ban on physical campaign rallies: Election Commission to decide on future course on Saturday


NEW DELHI: The Election Commission will meet on Saturday to take a call on whether to extend beyond January 15 the ban on public rallies, roadshows and corner meetings in five 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.

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.

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.