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Election Commission bans bike rallies, roadshows in Bengal

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on April 22, 2021

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a public rally while sitting on a wheelchair, ahead of the State Assembly polls   -  PTI

Limits headcount in public rallies.

The Election Commission of India has banned bike and cycle rallies, roadshows, pad-yatras/ processions while restricting headcount in public rallies to 500 individuals, following social distancing norms, in the poll-bound state of West Bengal. The move comes given rising Covid cases and blatant flouting of all norms by political parties.

The ban comes into effect from 7 pm on April 22.

Permission for all processions, cycle or bike rallies or roadshows now stand cancelled, while public rallies will have to adhere to the new guidelines, the order mentioned.

“The Commission has noted with anguish that many political parties/candidates are still not adhering to prescribed safety norms during the public gatherings. This makes it difficult for the state/district election machineries to enforce directions fully” it observed in its order.

Incidentally, six out of eight phases of elections have already been held in West Bengal. Prime Minister Modi has announced the cancellation of his rallies scheduled on Friday because of the emerging Covid crisis in the country.

Earlier in the day, the Calcutta High Court has expressed dissatisfaction with the handling of Covid protocols during polls.

Mamata cancels rallies

Minutes after the ECI order, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted that she has cancelled all her rallies scheduled for tomorrow. Instead, she will address people virtually.

“In the wake of an upsurge in Covid-19 cases across the country and the ECI Order dated 22nd April, 2021, I am cancelling all my prescheduled meetings, and we will reach out to the people virtually,” the Chief Minister tweeted late in the evening.

Published on April 22, 2021

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