Gujarat local body polls: No victory rallies after results

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Ahmedabad, Feb 9 (PTI) In view of the coronavirus pandemic, the Gujarat State Election Commission (SEC) has imposed a ban on holding of rallies and processions by victorious candidates after declaration of results of the forthcoming elections to local bodies.

In a circular mentioning various Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be followed during the counting of votes, the SEC on Tuesday warned that people found violating the COVID-19 related directives will be booked under the Disaster Management Act and section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.

Elections to six municipal corporations will take place on February 21, and for 81 municipalities, 31 district panchayats and 231 taluka panchayats on February 28.

Counting of votes for the six corporations will be taken up on February 23 and for the local bodies on March 2.

As per the SOPs, respective returning officers (ROs) must ensure that candidates do not organise any victory rally or victory procession after the declaration of results.

The SEC also directed the ROs to deploy necessary manpower to prevent gathering of crowd inside the counting centres.

The state government has appointed Additional Director, Public Health, office of the Health Commissioner, as the nodal officer to suggest and supervise steps to be taken during the entire poll process to stop the spread of coronavirus, as per the circular.

To maintain social distancing, the SEC has directed the ROs not to place more than seven tables in a counting hall. If needed, additional officers can be deployed to oversee counting in different halls, it said.

While no one will be allowed to enter the counting centres without wearing a mask, counting staff will have to wear a mask, hand gloves and face shield, as per the SOPs.

Premises as well as various stationery and carrying cases must be disinfected and sanitised before the commencement of the counting process.

After the end of the counting process, Electronic Voting Machine units must be sanitised before putting them back into strong rooms, said the circular. PTI PJT NSK NSK