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Nine parties oppose Election Commission of India plan for digital campaign in Bihar

A view of the logo of Election Commission of India at the headquarters in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

A day after the Election Commission (EC) reversed its decision to extend postal ballot facility to voters above 65 years of age, nine Opposition parties on Friday met in Delhi to oppose the panel’s move to hold only a digital campaign for the upcoming Bihar Assembly election in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Also read: Bihar Assembly election: Amid speculations, Cong. denies contacting LJP

Bihar in-charge for Congress Shaktisinh Gohil, RJD RS MP Manoj K. Jha, CPI (ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharjee, RLSP president Upendra Kushwaha, CPI general secretary D. Raja, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, among others, were present at the meeting.

Together, the parties came up with a joint memorandum opposing the EC’s decision to prohibit the traditional mode of campaign and allow only a ‘virtual election campaign’.

The memorandum pointed out that as per TRAI, only 34% of Bihar voters had a smart phone.

Also read: Bihar Assembly poll: Nitish to kick-start virtual campaign on Aug. 7

“It will be a travesty of unparalleled proportion to officially legitimise a mode of election campaign which is not only severely limiting by its reach but exclusionary by design,” the Opposition parties’ memorandum said.

The parties pointed out that almost 2/3rd of the electorate would be left out. The election, they argued, would end up being a mere formality and it would be a ‘travesty of democratic processes’.

The parties also urged the EC to clarify how exactly it would ensure that the election did not end up being a “super-spreader event”.

Also read: Bihar Assembly elections | All is well in Mahagathbandhan, says RJD leader Manoj Jha

“How does the EC plan to ensure physical distancing of at least two metres recommended by WHO and ICMR and reportedly advocated by the Prime Minister himself?” the parties wrote.

The parties had earlier written to the EC, opposing the extension of postal ballots to those above 65.

According to sources in the meeting that lasted less than an hour, no other political discussions took place.

The Left parties so far do not have a place in the Opposition alliance, Mahagatbandhan. Sources said that they did not press for their inclusion.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 3:20:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/nine-parties-oppose-election-commission-of-india-plan-for-digital-campaign-in-bihar/article32113033.ece

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