Temporary bans on pre-election rallies in five states – imposed by the Election Commission last week due to the escalation of the Kovid case – could be extended, sources told NDTV on Saturday evening.
Sources said that the length of the ban will be announced later.
The top election body on January 8 said that until January 15 (today) rallies, roadshows and some other kinds of public political events will be banned and then the order will be reviewed.
The Election Commission has held multiple meetings today – with the Central Health Secretary at 11 a.m., all the candidates for the state Chief and Health Secretaries at noon and the Chief Electoral Officer at 1 p.m.
The ban on rallies and roadshows was passed in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur as part of a list of measures announced for holding elections as safe as possible.
That list included the holding of ‘no-no’ activities Nook meeting, Or limit the number of people allowed to hold street meetings, and house-to-house campaigns.
Elections in UP, Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand are taking place amid a horrific rise in the number of Kovid cases across the country, including in a few vote-dependent states.
UP has witnessed a massive 1300 per cent increase in covid infections in the first week of this month, with a positive rate of more than five per cent in 16 of the 22 districts of Punjab, which is the level of risk.
Medical experts and civil society groups, as well as the Allahabad High Court, requested the Election Commission to postpone the election, but the request was denied; The survey agency said it was constitutionally bound to hold elections in a “timely” manner.
Concerns were raised that promotional events like Rally and Rhodeshow – in which thousands participate – could become super-spreaders, especially since the much more contagious Omicron variant is now running a third wave across the country.