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Election Commission reiterates COVID-19 norms for campaigning after parties flout rules

The Election Commission of India office in New Delhi. File  

The Election Commission on Wednesday reiterated its guidelines for campaigning during the COVID-19 pandemic after finding that political parties and candidates had been lax in maintaining crowd discipline during the ongoing polls.

Also read: Bihar Assembly elections | EC’s distancing norms go for a toss during campaign

With campaigning for the Bihar Assembly elections and bypolls across States under way, the EC wrote to all recognised national and State parties to reiterate it’s earlier advisory to parties regarding social distancing, mask wearing and other COVID-safe measures.

On October 9, the EC had written: “As representatives of public, this onerous responsibility rests with the political parties to ensure that they not only cooperate with the district machineries in following the due norms of public health safety as prescribed, but also instil a sense of discipline for civic behaviour in their cadre while doing ground management during campaign times. It is requested that you may like to issue advisory to all your field representatives to demonstrate utmost vigil and care to abide by all the extant instructions in large interest of public health and avoid any penal action for breaching the provisions.”

The EC had also issued broad guidelines on August 21 that said legal action would be taken against those who fail to comply with the rules.

“Instances of such public meetings have come to notice of the Commission, where large number of crowds have assembled in utter violation of social distancing and the political leaders/campaigners are addressing the gathering without wearing masks in complete disregard of the guidelines/instructions. By doing so, the political parties and candidates are not only flouting the guidelines of the Commission with impunity, but exposing themselves as well as the public attending the rallies/meetings to the danger of infection during the pandemic,” the EC said.

The EC said it had “taken a serious view of the laxity on the part of political parties and candidates, on the ground, in terms of maintaining crowd discipline” and reiterated the need for parties to be careful during campaigning.

It said the Chief Electoral Officers and district officials would be expected to invoke the relevant penal provisions against the candidates concerned and organisers of events for violations.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2020 2:38:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/election-commission-reiterates-covid-19-norms-for-campaigning-after-parties-flout-rules/article32909128.ece

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