New Delhi: The Election Commission on Saturday issued a notice to the Samajwadi Party for organising a public gathering “in the name of virtual rally” at its Lucknow office in violation of COVID-19 norms.
Referring to Friday’s event in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, the notice stated that after considering the available material and extant instructions in the matter, the poll panel has decided to provide the party an opportunity to explain its stand regarding the “violations”.
“Your explanation shall reach the Commission within 24 hours of receipt of this notice, failing which the Commission shall take appropriate decision in the matter without further reference to you,” the notice to the SP general secretary read.
Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases between February 10 and March 7.
Announcing the schedule of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur on January 8, the panel had taken the unprecedented step of banning public rallies, roadshows and corner meetings till January 15 in view of the pandemic.
On Saturday, the Election Commission extended the ban on physical campaign rallies and roadshows till January 22. The poll body has imposed the ban in view of the exponentially rising COVID-19 cases in the country.
The EC granted relaxation to political parties to the extent that their indoor meetings could include a maximum of 300 persons or at 50 per cent of the capacity of the hall or the prescribed limit set by the respective State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs).
Further, the political parties have to adhere to the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and the broad guidelines on COVID protocol. The poll body directed the state and district administration to ensure compliance of all instructions related to the MCC and COVID-19.