Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has expressed concern over the Election Commission of India's directive to conduct virtual campaigning. Pawar said that campaigning using alternative means will be not easy for smaller parties due to limited financial strength.
The Election Commission on Saturday banned all physical rallies, padayatra and roadshows in the poll-bound states- Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab and Goa till January 15. The step was reportedly taken in view of an alarming surge in COVID cases.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Pawar said, "Some political parties are facing restrictions, those parties which have a majority and financial strength, they can campaign using alternative means but it is no easy for smaller parties."
The NCP chief also informed that his party will contest Uttar Pradesh polls in alliance with the Samajwadi Party and other smaller parties. Speaking on Goa polls, Pawar said that he is in talks with Indian National Congress and Trinamool Congress (TMC) for a possible alliance.
Sharad Pawar is not the first leader to raise questions on EC's decision to ban physical rallies, Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party chief and Samajwadi Party ally Om Prakash Rajbhar has also raised concern over the virtual rallies, he said that the smaller parties do not have resources for digital poll campaign.
"They (other parties) are big and have enough resources for virtual rallies. The Election Commission should give funds to the smaller parties," OP Rajbhar had said.
Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSPL) president Shivpal Singh Yadav also said that the virtual campaigning will not affect a bigger party like Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or Congress, which is an old party. "Smaller parties will bear the brunt," he said.
The Election Commission of India last week announced dates for Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa and Manipur. While Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand will have polls in a single phase, Uttar Pradesh and Manipur polls shall be conducted in seven and two phases, respectively. The counting of votes for all states will take place on March 10. A total of 18.34 crore electors will decide the fate of 690 constituencies in the abovementioned five states.