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As Covid-19 cases across the country continue to show a declining trend, the election commission (EC) on Tuesday further eased the restrictions it had imposed on roadshows for the ongoing assembly elections in five states.

According to the new order, the election body has removed the 50% cap on meetings, rallies and roadshows of political parties and candidates. Roadshows have been allowed with prior permission from district authorities. 

“Other existing provisions related to electioneering shall continue to operate," said EC. 

Campaigning is currently on for the two-phase Manipur assembly elections and phases five, six and seven of the Uttar Pradesh polls.

The commission has been reviewing the pandemic situation periodically and allowing some relaxation.

Prior to this, the commission had restored the number of star campaigners a party can field for campaigning. 

Recognised national and state parties were allowed to field a maximum of 40 star campaigners. Other parties which are registered but not recognised can have 20 star campaigners.

The commission had in October 2020 reduced the number of star campaigners for recognised national and state parties from 40 to 30, as large gatherings were witnessed during campaigning in Bihar assembly elections and bypolls in several states amid the coronavirus pandemic.

For unrecognised registered political parties, the maximum number of star campaigners was brought down to 15 from 20.

Further, on 12 February, the EC allowed padayatras with a limited number of people and increased the number of hours campaigning can take place in a day.

The election campaign was allowed to be conducted between 6 am and 10 pm instead of earlier 8 am to 8 pm, following all Covid-appropriate behaviour and protocols of state disaster management authorities.

Earlier on 31 January, it had granted permission for physical public meetings of political parties in designated open spaces with a maximum of 1,000 persons or 50% of the capacity or the prescribed limit set by SDMA, whichever is lesser, from 1 February for all phases.

Announcing the dates for elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur on 8 January, the poll panel had announced a ban on physical rallies, roadshows and bike rallies and similar campaign events to arrest the spread of coronavirus. 

Elections in Goa, Punjab, Manipur, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh are being held in seven phases from 10 February.

 

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