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Bihar Assembly polls 2020: EC guidelines for elections amid Covid-19

Bihar Assembly elections: This is the first major election to be held in the middle of the worldwide coronavirus crisis. Here are the guidelines that the EC has announced to minimise the risk of infection during Bihar Assembly polls

Written by Dipankar Ghose | New Delhi |
Updated: September 25, 2020 3:12:39 pm
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Voting for Bihar Assembly elections will be held in three phases on October 28, November 3 and 7 and the results will be announced on November 10, the Election Commission said today. This is the first major election to be held in the middle of the worldwide coronavirus crisis.

Announcing the poll schedule for the 243-member Bihar assembly, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said these will be one of the biggest elections globally to be held during the prevailing COVID-19 situation. He said the world has changed significantly since the last elections which were held for Delhi assembly and the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a new normal in every aspect of our life.

Here are the guidelines that the EC has announced to minimise the risk of infection during Bihar Assembly polls

  • Polling hours have been increased by one hour. Voting from 7 am to 6 pm instead of the usual 5 pm. (Except for in LWE areas)
  • Covid-19 patients and suspected cases will be allowed to vote — in the “last hour of the poll day.”
  • All physical contact has been prohibited during the campaign
  • The facilities of “postal ballots” have been extended to those over 80 years of age
  • The EC said 7 lakh hand sanitisers, 46 lakh masks, 6 lakh PPE kits, 6.7 lakh face shields and 23 lakh pairs of hand gloves have been arranged for Bihar polls.
Bihar Assembly polls 2020 will be held in three phases.
  • The EC has capped the size of the campaign squad to three people for door-to-door visits and allowed only five cars, instead of 10, in a candidate’s convoy for roadshows. Only two people will accompany a candidate for filing her nomination papers.
  • Not more than 1,000 voters, down from the current limit of 1,500, can vote at one polling station
  • Temperature check of all voters at the polling station, and wearing masks will be compulsory on the day of voting.
  • All elections meetings will be monitored by election and health officials. Public gatherings can take place following social distancing norms.

Arora said that he wanted to clarify that through these measures it was clear that “physical campaigning” had not been barred. Asked later about any restrictions on the number of people at rallies, Arora said that decision rested with the district administration, and that district collectors had already drawn up a list of venues that would be used for the purpose. He said that they had been asked to mark the ground with social distancing norms of 2 gaj ki doori.

Voting for the first phase on October 28 will cover 71 assembly constituencies, while the second-phase voting on November 3 will cover 94 seats. The third phase of voting on November 7 will cover 78 assembly seats. Chief Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar, who leads a coalition in the state with the BJP, will fight for a fourth term. Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD will be led by son Tejashwi and Congress will challenge NDA.

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