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Ahead of April 6 polls, Election Commission bans crowded finale of open campaigning in Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 03: The COVID-19 seems to play a spoilsport on the usual crowded culmination to the weeks-long poll campaigning in Kerala as the Election Commission has banned the years-long practice in the wake of the virus spread in the state.

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Based on the request of the state Chief Electoral Officer, Teeka Ram Meena, the Election Commission of India has approved the banning of the customary finale marked by immense participation of crowd and celebration on Sunday ahead of the April 6 Assembly polls.

Known as "Kottikalasham" in the local parlance, the finale of the open poll campaigning used to be a jamboree in the southern state in which every political party would try to show off their strength by bringing a maximum number of supporters to add colour to the show. "... the proposal forbanning the practice of Kottikalasham in the state of Kerala has been approved by the Commission," the ECI said in a letter.

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Though there is no mention of the COVID-19 in the letter, the sources close to the Chief Electoral Officer here said that the ban was imposed to minimise the virus spread. Meanwhile, the Thiruvanathapuram District Collector Navjot Khosa has imposed strict restrictions and vigil in the capital district ahead of assembly polls.

Bike rallies as part of the election campaigning have been completely banned in the district since midnight. Distribution of free food kits or any other gift, amounted to influence voters,also would not be allowed till the polls, official sources here said.

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