The Election Commission on Tuesday said that it will come up with “broad guidelines” for holding polls within the next three days, amid the coronavirus pandemic, PTI reported. The poll panel said the matter of issuing guidelines for Assembly elections and bye-elections during the “Covid-19 period” was discussed at a meeting earlier in the day.
The commission said it considered the views and suggestions of political parties, and chief electoral officers of states and Union Territories. “After considering all these, the commission directed to frame broad guidelines within three days,” it said.
The poll panel also said that based on these guidelines, the chief electoral officers of states heading to elections soon should prepare a comprehensive brief of Covid-19-related measures, taking into account the local conditions in states or districts.
The Bihar Assembly elections are due before the end of the year, and the West Bengal polls early in 2021. Several bye-polls have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and heavy rainfall. The Election Commission has not yet announced a fresh schedule for these elections.
Opposition parties in Bihar such as the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) are opposed to “virtual campaigning”. Nine parties, in a memorandum to the Election Commission, have questioned the Bharatiya Janata Party’s digital campaign, claiming that it disturbs the level-playing field.
In July, Opposition parties in Bihar had also asked the poll body to ensure that the elections do not become a “coronavirus super-spreader” event.
A senior Election Commission official said “all factors” will be kept in mind while framing the guidelines.