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 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.
- 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.
Elections are due in later this year in Bihar, which has reported 1.15 lakh coronavirus cases and over 570 deaths till now. The Election Commission, however, has not made any announcement about the schedule.
In Bihar, except Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and the BJP, almost all major political parties have demanded that elections be postponed due to the coronavirus threat.
“What sort of elections would be held under these circumstances? Every polling station will turn out to be a coronavirus infection centre after elections, and it is difficult to predict the extent to which the disease might spread,” former union minister Yashwant Sinha said on Thursday.