With PM Modi starting his election campaign on October 23, instructions have been issued to the security agencies in Bihar not to allow any local leader on PM’s choppers. Social distancing would be maintained and no leader without masks would be allowed to share the dais with the PM. All state leaders will have to pass through strict thermal screening before being allowed to come close to the PM’s chair.
Although the EC has deployed its observers and arranged videography of the public meetings, EC protocols to prevent the virus’s spread are not being followed. People in the audience do not wear masks either, and no screening is done. The observers are not finding the situation conducive to visit public meetings.
On October 11, the first incidents of violation were reported from Gandhi Maidan in Gaya, where BJP President JP Nadda launched his campaign. Later, the local police station filed an FIR against the organisers of the meet the Gaya unit of BJP.
There seems to be no arrangement of thermal screening anywhere in the state, no one is made to use masks in public meetings. Even in the mass contact programmes by the candidates, EC guidelines are violated. In the five constitutencies in Patna, candidates are moving with hundreds of their supporters who are without masks. So far, 2.08 lakh Corona positive cases have been reported in the state.
The EC on Wednesday sent a communication to all political parties contesting the election expressing its concern over the gatherings in the public meetings and absence of safety measures against Corona.
Candidates’ expenditure to see another increase
Just on the heels of the Law Ministry on Monday notifying a 10% hike in the existing expenditure limit of candidates in the elections, the EC wants it further increased as it set up on Wednesday a 2-member committee to examine further revision of this limit and submit its report within 120 days.
It also made it clear the 10% rise effected by the Law Ministry will be applicable with immediate effect in the ongoing elections.
The committee consists of Harish Kumar, ex-IRS officer and Director General (Investigation) and Umesh Sinha, Secretary General and DG (Expenditure), who will examine the issues concerning the expenditure limit for a candidate in view of increase in the number of electors and rise in the Cost Inflation Index and other factors.
Its terms of reference are:
-- To assess the change in number of electors across the States/UTs and its bearing on expenditure.
-- To assess the change in Cost Inflation Index and its bearing on the pattern of expenditure incurred by the candidates in recent elections.
-- To seek views/inputs of the political parties and other stakeholders.
-- To examine other factors which may have bearings on expenditure.
-- To examine any other related issue.
-- Our Bureau