Election Commission to formulate guidelines within 3 days for polls during COVID-19 pandemic
By Vivek Raj | Galatta | Aug 18, 2020, 08:25 pm
The Election Commission of India (EC) on Tuesday in a statement said "broad guidelines" would be formulated within three days in regard to holding elections during the coronavirus pandemic crisis. The autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering elections in India at national and state said a meeting was held earlier today where issuance of the guidelines for the elections and by-elections during the"COVID-19 period" was discussed.
Views and suggestions have been given by various political parties to the commission, which has also taken into consideration the recommendations put forward 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.
Based on the guidelines to be framed, the commission stated that the chief electoral officers of election-going states must come up with an all-inclusive plan for state or district concerned for COVID-19 related measures, taking into consideration the local conditions, while holding elections.
On November 29, the term of the Bihar legislative assembly will come to a conclusion, with polls likely to be conducted sometime around October-November. The COVID-19 outbreak as well as the heavy rains have led to a number of bypolls getting postponed in recent times. As of now, no fresh schedule has been announced, with authorities informing people to wear face masks and maintain social distancing among following other protocols to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has left more than 1 lakh people infected in Bihar.
Last month, the Election Commission informed the parties to send across 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." Among them, the RJD and the CPI(M) are reportedly not in favor of "virtual campaigning" in the assembly polls.
In a memorandum submitted to the Election Commission in July, nine opposition parties questioned the digital campaign launched by the BJP in Bihar. The opposition has stated that such steps hinders the level-playing field and put forward the demand for normal electioneering. A senior EC official has stated that all factors would be taken into account while framing the document when queried about whether guidelines would propose a mix of digital and physical campaigning.