Amid Covid-19, EC trims star campaigner lists for parties ahead of Bihar polls

The Election Commission has restricted the number of star campaigners that political parties can deploy for the Bihar assembly elections, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The maximum limit on the number of star campaigners for recognised national and state political parties shall be 30 in place of 40 and for unrecognised registered political parties it shall be 15 in place of 20 during the period of pandemic,” the EC said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

The Commission justified its decision, saying its team that visited Bihar between September 29 and October 1 was informed about the potential health concerns during the visits of star campaigners, especially as “huge crowds gathered at the landing of helicopters”.

“The matter was further deliberated in the Commission today,” the EC said. “After considering all facts and circumstances emerging due to the pandemic and keeping a balance between the requirements of campaign by the political parties, the commission has decided to revise the norms of star campaigners.”

Political parties have now been instructed to submit a revised list of star campaigners. The Commission has further said that parties will have to seek permission before their star campaigners are allowed into the state.

“Request for permission for the campaigning by star campaigners shall be submitted to the district election authorities at least 48 hours before the start of campaign so that all necessary safety measures are put in place by all concerned stakeholders well in time,” the EC said.

The Commission further said that district authorities have completed the identification of locations for the electoral campaign in each constituency. “They are in the process of marking it for public gathering, keeping Covid-19 safety norms in view,” the EC said.

The Bihar elections are the first major polls that the EC is undertaking amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The three-phase polls are to be held on October 28, November 3 and November 7. The results for the 243-member assembly will be declared between November 10 and November 12.

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