The Election Commission of India on January 31 announced that the ban on political rallies will be extended till February 11.
A statement issued by the Election Commission read: "The ECI extends ban on road shows, padyatras (on-foot), cycle/bike/vehicle rallies, and processions till February 11, 2022."
The Commission has, however, introduced some relaxations in the numbers permitted for physical public rallies from February 1, by allowing a maximum of 1,000 persons, or 50 percent capacity of the ground, whichever is lesser. Additionally, political parties can now hold indoor meetings with a maximum capacity of 500 people or 50 percent capacity of the hall (whichever is lesser), while 20 people (excluding security personnel) will be allowed at door-to-door campaigns.
Earlier, 500 persons were allowed at public physical rallies, 300 at indoor meets, and only 10 persons at door-to-door campaigns.
The ECI decided to extend the ban to avoid a spurt in COVID-19 cases in the country. The decision was taken days ahead of the commencement of the 2022 Assembly elections in five states.
Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra had called a meeting to review the COVID-19 situation in the five states that are going to polls next month, namely, Goa, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Manipur. At the review meet, in-depth discussions were also held on the current vaccination status in these states.