January 4, 2022 3:25:35 am
In the wake of surging Covid-19 cases in West Bengal, the State Election Commission (SEC) has banned roadshows and rallies ahead of the urban local body polls in four municipalities — Bidhannagar, Chandannagar, Siliguri, and Asansol — on January 22.
As per a detailed guideline issued by the poll body for the civic polls on Monday, candidates will be allowed to hold door-to-door campaigns but not more than four persons accompanying him/her.
“No roadshow or `padayatra’ (marches) shall be permissible. No cycle/ bike/ vehicle rally shall be permissible. A maximum number of 5 persons, including the candidates, and excluding security personnel are allowed to house to house campaigning,” the guidelines issued by the SEC said.
Also, the campaigning will not be allowed between 8 pm and 9 am, taking into account the night curfew imposed by the state government following the fresh jump in Covid infections.
The Commission said that while no large rallies will be allowed, a maximum of 500 people can attend a meeting of a political party in a big field. “The entry and exit to the field should be kept separate. If the meeting takes place in a closed area like auditorium or conference hall, the capacity should be limited to 50 per cent or not more than 200,” it added.
The Commission said that a nodal officer would be appointed in each of the four municipalities to ensure that Covid protocols are followed.
While the polling officials should be fully vaccinated, the polling agents of the candidates should be at least partially vaccinated, said the poll panel.
Also, everyone inside the booth must have to wear a mask.
“There shall be thermal scanning and hand sanitisation of all persons entering polling premises,” he said.
According to the SEC official, Covid patients, who are quarantined, will be allowed to cast their vote at the last hour of the poll day at their respective polling stations.
The SEC issued the guidelines amid uncertainty over the upcoming polls in the wake of the surging Covid-19 cases in the state and the government bringing back stricter Covid-related restrictions.
On Sunday, State Election Commissioner Sourav Das said that he was not in a position to comment on whether to go ahead with the scheduled date or put off the polling for the time being. “I can’t comment on it as of now. I will have to discuss the matter with the state government and then take a call,” Das had said.
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