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ECI issues guidelines for polls, makes masks and sanitisers mandatory

New Delhi: Ahead of the Bihar polls, the Election Commission of India has approved the broad guidelines for the conduct of elections and bye-elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

These include the use of masks, sanitisers, thermal scanners and adherence to social distancing norms during the election process.

Only five people will be allowed including the candidate during door-to-door campaigning, adhering to the containment guidelines.

The election commission in a statement said that public meetings and road shows will be allowed with suitable instructions subject to containment instructions issued by the MHA and the State.

The Commission has revised the norms on the number of persons accompanying the candidate and number of vehicles to be allowed at the time of nomination.

The Commission has also created optional facility for filling of the nomination forms and the affidavits online. Candidates can take a print of the same and submit the forms before the Returning Officer concerned. The candidates will also have the option to deposit security amount for contesting the elections online, for the first time.

“Face masks, sanitisers, thermal scanners, gloves, face shields and PPE kits shall be used during the electoral process ensuring social distancing norms” said the EC statement.

The commission had sought suggestions from national and state political parties and has released guidelines after considering them.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday directed the states where elections would be held in the coming months to frame broad guidelines within three days on the smooth conduct of the polling process amid the coronavirus pandemic and report back to the central body.

On the basis of these guidelines, the Commission directed that the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of such states will also prepare comprehensive plans for the conduct of campaigning and voting in the state/districts concerned, taking into account the conditions likely to prevail during elections.

Bihar, which is slated to go to the polls in October-November, is gearing up for the exercise despite the dual challenges posed by coronavirus and the floods.

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