KOLKATA: The Election Commission on Thursday banned all roadshows, processions, and bike rallies in Bengal after it found severe violation of Covid-19 protocols in the events organised by the political parties.
In its order on Thursday evening, the poll panel also said no public meetings beyond the limit of 500 persons shall be permissible.
Elaborating on its move, the poll panel said, "The Commission has noted several instances of election meetings and campaigns wherein norms of social distancing, wearing of masks, etc. have been flouted in blatant disregard of the Commission’s aforesaid guidelines. The Commission has also taken a serious view against repeated violations by star campaigners/political leaders/candidates who are supposed to be torchbearers for the campaign against Covid-19."
The Commission’s order said, "No roadshow/pad-yatra shall be permissible. No cycle/bike/vehicle rally shall be permissible. No public meeting beyond the limit of 500 persons at a place subject to availability of adequate space with social distancing, adhering to Covid safety norms, shall be permissible."
The EC order came hours after Kolkata High Court expressed dissatisfaction with the poll panel over enforcement of Covid safety norms during the ongoing elections.
Hearing three PILs seeking enforcement of Covid protocol on Thursday, a division bench presided by Chief Justice TBN Radhakrishnan said: "The Election Commission is empowered to act but what is it doing about polls in this Covid times? The EC just passing circulars and leaving it to the people. But the EC has implementing authority."
Commenting that the Commission "is not doing one-tenth of what TN Seshan had done", the judge warned that if the poll panel did not take action, it will.
Earlier, the panel banned campaigns from 7 pm to 10 am across the state and extended the silence period to 72 hours from 48 hours prior to the scheduled polling day.