In view of the upcoming Bihar Assembly polls, the Election Commission Friday issued fresh guidelines for conduct of elections during the Covid-19 pandemic. After considering suggestions made by political parties and chief electoral officers of states and union territories, the poll watchdog said that only a group of five people can campaign door-to-door. It also restricted candidate convoy for roadshows to five vehicles, among other measures.
Bihar will be the first state where assembly elections will be held amid the pandemic. The polls are likely to be held sometime in October-November.
Here are other highlights:
*Only two people can accompany candidate at the time of nomination.
*If a voter, on the day of voting, shows symptoms of virus, the person will be provided a token and asked to come back at the last hour of polling.
*Hand gloves will be provided to voters at the time of signing register and pressing the EVM button.
*Maximum 1,000 voters can vote at a polling station. Earlier the maximum number was 1500.
*All voters will be asked to wear face masks, which they will be asked to remove briefly for identification at the time of voting
*Quarantined patients will be allowed to vote at the last hour of poll under supervision of heath officials, strictly following preventive measures
The guidelines does not mention anything on virtual rallies and digital campaigns. The term of the Bihar legislative assembly comes to an end on November 29 and polls are likely to he held sometime in October-November. Several bypolls were recently postponed mainly due to coronavirus and rains. No fresh schedule has been announced as yet.
The EC had last month asked the parties to send their “views and suggestions…so that necessary guidelines may be firmed up for the election campaign by candidates or political parties for the conduct of election during the pandemic period”.
Parties such as the RJD and the CPI(M) are learnt to be opposed to the concept of “virtual campaigning” in the assembly polls.
While RJD and CPI(M) have urged the panel to not allow digital rallies on grounds of disruption of the level-playing field, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), an NDA constituent, has suggested less emphasis on this mode of campaigning.
Earlier too, in a memorandum submitted to the EC in July, nine opposition parties had questioned the digital campaign launched by the BJP in Bihar, saying it disturbs the level-playing field. They had demanded normal electioneering.