MHA allows political gathering in poll-bound states before Oct 15

New Delhi: In a modification to the reopening guidelines, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday allowed political parties to hold rallies in 12 election bound states before October 15.

The order came in the wake of the announcement by the Election Commission of India to hold state elections in Bihar and bypolls in 11 states for Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies that are scheduled on October 28, November 3 and November 7.

In a notification, the MHA said that political gatherings can now take place before October 15 by keeping in mind open spaces. The guidelines for wearing masks and maintaining social distancing must be strictly followed.

"In exercise of powers conferred under Section 10 (2)(I) of the Disaster Management Act 2005, it is decided that the state governments concerned may permit political gatherings, outside the containment zones, beyond the existing limit of 100 persons on any date before October 15 in those Assembly or Parliamentary constituencies only, where elections are to be held," the order said.

The order also mentioned certain guidelines for closed and open spaces. A maximum of 50 per cent of the hall capacity will be allowed in closed spaces with a ceiling of 200 persons. Wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, provisions for thermal scanning and use of hand sanitisers will be mandatory.

In open spaces, keeping the size of the ground or space in view, strict observance of social distancing norms, mandatory wearing of face masks, and provisions for thermal scanning and hand wash must be followed.

"The states and Union Territories will issue detailed standard operating procedures (SOPs) to regulate such political gatherings and strictly enforce the same," the order issued by Union Home Secretary and Chairman of National Executive Committee, Ajay Kumar Bhalla, said.

On September 30, the MHA had issued guidelines allowing the state and UT governments to permit social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious and political functions and other congregations outside the containment zones, beyond the existing limit of 100 persons after October 15.

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