New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) Reiterating its earlier Covid-19 restrictions, the Election Commission has warned star campaigners and the candidates to ban them from campaigning if the protocols related to the pandemic is not strictly followed during election rallies.
In the order, the poll panel mentioned that there were instances of election meetings and campaigns where mandatory norms like social distancing and wearing of masks have been “flouted in disregard to the Commission’s earlier guideline”.
Noting that Covid cases are being reported in larger numbers in recent weeks and instances of start campaigners or political leaders or candidates not observing Covid protocols, including non-wearing of masks themselves at stage or while campaigning, the poll panel warned the defaulters to ban them from taking part in the campaigning. The EC issued the order on Friday night.
By doing so, the commission said, the political parties and candidates are exposing themselves as well as the public attending such election meetings to the grave danger of infection.
“It is clarified that the Commission, in cases of breach, will not hesitate in banning public meetings, rallies of the defaulting candidates or star campaigners or political leaders without any further reference,” the EC said
Taking note of the laxity in maintaining Covid norms, the commission stressed on the need to follow its guideline issued on August 21 last year for “observance in all seriousness”.
Seeking fullest cooperation from political parties and candidates of strictest observance of the protocols so that all Covid guidelines are adhered, the commission advised that “it is incumbent duty” of them to control the spread of Covid.
“Use sanitizers before beginning of any meetings or public rally, wear masks, use sanitizers and put in place crowd control measures as per social distancing norms,” said the EC.
The EC said that “political leaders, campaigners, candidates, existing or aspiring policy makers are expected to be torchbearers for the campaign against Covid”.
“It is also expected from these people that they not only set an example by maintaining social distancing, wearing masks and following prescribed protocols but also exhorting all local formations who attend programmes to follow Covid protocol.”
The poll panel took the decision amid countrywide second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic which infected 1,45,384 more people within last 24 hours and claimed lives of 794, totaling over 1.32 crore cases registered so far.