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EC rejects BJP’s plea on campaigning deadline
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 11
The BJP’s plea for extending poll campaigning deadline from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. was rejected by the three-member Election Commission panel headed by Chief Election Commissioner T.S. Krishna Murthy, which met here today.

The EC’s decision comes a couple of days after the BJP General Secretary Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi wrote a letter to the commission, requesting it to permit all meetings and processions in the current Lok Sabha elections upto 11 p.m.

The BJP had decided to knock at the door of the commission in the wake of the controversy over Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s late night election rally in Patna last week.

Mr Advani, had to abruptly end his election speech in Patna after barely 15 minutes as district administration officials reminded him about the 10 p.m. deadline.

In his letter to the commission on April 9, Mr Naqvi had pointed out that the commission’s circular dated August 3, 1996 to all chief secretaries and chief electoral officers of states had said, “Restrictions regarding the use of loudspeakers, regulation of public meetings, processions beyond 10 p.m. may be allowed in specific cases and the same may be allowed, subject to local laws, till midnight.”

But in the absence of clear guidelines, the authorities were enforcing the deadline, Mr Naqvi had argued in his letter.

The letter said since the Lok Sabha elections were being held in the peak of summer it was difficult for all political parties to hold meetings in the day time. So night time was more comfortable.

“Therefore, it would be appropriate that the commission not only draws the attention of the state authorities to the above mentioned circular of the commission but also in general permit all meetings and processions in the current election upto 11 p.m,” he argued.

Asked to comment on today’s decision of the Election Commission, Mr Naqvi said, “We had made the plea with good intentions...But now that the EC has decided not to extend the deadline, we will adhere to its decision as we have been doing.”

Meanwhile, the Congress has welcomed the EC’s decision.

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