EC to issue guidelines on elections during COVID-19 pandemic

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission (EC) would come up with “broad” guidelines within three days for holding elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
An EC statement said the matter of issuing broad guidelines for elections and by-elections during “COVID-19 period” was discussed at the commission meeting on Tuesday.
The commission considered the views and suggestions given by the political parties. It also considered the suggestions and recommendations made by chief electoral officers of states and union territories.
“After considering all these, the commission directed to frame broad guidelines within three days,” it said.
The commission also directed that on the basis of these guidelines, chief electoral officers of election-going states should also prepare a comprehensive plan for state or district concerned for COVID-19 related measures, taking into account the local conditions, while holding elections.
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 authorities have asked people to wear face masks and maintain social distancing among other measures to check the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected over 1 lakh people in Bihar.
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.
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.
Asked whether the guidelines would propose a mix of digital and physical campaigning, a senior official said all factors would be kept in mind while formulating the document.

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