The ban on roadshows and rallies for next month's state polls was extended till the end of this month on Saturday by the Election Commission but with relaxations for the first two phases of voting due on February 10 and 14.
The decision came after the election body held a meeting earlier in the day with the Union Health Secretary and the Chief Health Secretaries of the five states to review the restrictions given the surge in coronavirus cases.
The Election Commission had banned election rallies and roadshows until January 15 first and later extended the curbs till January 22. The progress on vaccination will be a key factor in allowing relaxations, officials had said.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav will contest next month's Assembly election - his first - from the Karhal seat in Mainpuri district, which is in his family's home turf.
Karhal has voted for a Samajwadi Party candidate in every election since 1993, except in 2002, when the BJP flipped it. It returned to Mr Yadav's party in 2007 and is currently held by Sobaran Yadav.
The five states - Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur, and Goa - will submit the current status of vaccination and caseload in the virtual meeting.
Meanwhile, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra dropped a bombshell Friday morning when she hinted she could be the Congress's chief ministerial candidate for the Uttar Pradesh election. Hours later, she said she meant it in a "tongue-in-cheek" way.
But she did not rule out contesting the election. If she does, she will be third debutant in this UP election after Yogi Adityanath and Akhilesh Yadav.
"I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek. Because I am asked this question... every second question is the same question," Priyanka Gandhi said in an interview to NDTV.
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Dharmendra Pratap Singh, who claims to be India's tallest man, joined the Samajwadi Party today. Mr Singh, who hails from Uttar Pradesh's Pratapgarh is 2.4m (8 ft 1 in) tall. He is just 11 cm shy of the world record.
The alleged "exodus" of Hindus from Uttar Pradesh's Kairana before 2017 - a claim widely debunked as a communal bogey - took centre-stage as Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday launched a door-to-door election campaign in the state's west.
As Janata Dal (United) failed to cobble an alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, Janata Dal United (JDU) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh on Saturday expressed displeasure against Union Minister and party MP RCP Singh over the matter.
JDU president Rajiv Ranjan Singh released the list of candidates for 26 seats for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls today in the national capital.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday flagged off BJP's 'campaign vans' for next month's assembly polls and said the "double engine" government of the party has fulfilled all its promises.
The BJP government has ensured development of the people while following the mantra of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas', he said during the programme at the party's headquarters in Lucknow.
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday said his party will provide jobs to 22 lakh youths in the IT sector if it is voted to power in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.
Mr Yadav was speaking at a press conference in Lucknow.
At the press conference, SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav also made a formal announcement that Mr Yadav will contest the upcoming assembly election from Karhal seat in Mainpuri.
Making a conscious effort to shun the old baggage and present her party in a 'new avatar' in Uttar Pradesh, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has hand-picked over 70 per cent new faces among the total 166 candidates for the high-stakes state assembly election.
Besides sticking to her promise of 40 per cent women candidates, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has overwhelmingly given a chance to debutants with an aim to build a new leadership in the Hindi heartland, which had slipped from the party hands in recent years.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi on Saturday announced his alliance in Uttar Pradesh with Babu Singh Kushwaha and Bharat Mukti Morcha, reported ANI.
"If the alliance comes to power there will be 2 Chief Ministers, one from OBC community and another from Dalit community. There would be 3 Deputy Chief Ministers including from Muslim community," he told a press conference.
The decision to contest elections in Punjab was taken as people wanted us to clear the "filth" created by political parties, a key member of farmer group which is contesting the assembly elections told NDTV. Samyukta Samaj Morcha Chief Balbir Singh Rajewal, while ruling out an alliance with Aam Aadmi Party, was also critical of the Arvind Kejriwal party's chief ministerial choice, Bhagwant Mann.
"We are here to save Punjab, to improve the system. The situation in Punjab is getting worse. Children here have lost hope. They are migrating in large numbers due to unemployment. There are no jobs. This will increase the crime rate," Mr Rajewal said.
Goa's former Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Laxmikant Parsekar, who was denied ticket by the party for the next month's state Assembly elections, today said he will resign from the ruling party.
Talking to news agency PTI, the 65-year-old leader said he does not wish to remain in the party and will formally submit his resignation by this evening.
With less 20 days for the first phase of polls, the BJP moved into high gear Saturday with Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and party chief JP Nadda on the campaign trail in politically key western Uttar Pradesh, which votes on February 10.
Amit Shah will hold a door-to-door campaign in Kairana district - where the BJP hopes to use the 'Hindu migration' controversy - and address a public meeting in Shamli.
Utpal Parrikar, son of former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who quit the BJP and announced to contest next month's Goa Assembly elections from Panaji as an independent, has said that quitting the party was the "most difficult" decision, but he is ready to withdraw from the poll race if the BJP fields a "good candidate" from the constituency.
Mr Parrikar was denied ticket by the BJP from Panaji, a constituency which his father and party veteran had represented for more than two decades. Upset over the decision, Mr Parrikar on Friday quit the BJP and said he would fight the February 14 elections from the Panaji seat as an independent.
Union Minister Anurag Thakur, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath along with other BJP leaders on Saturday flagged off "Prachar Rath" (election campaign vans) from the party office in Lucknow, reported ANI.
Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and BJP state chief Swatantra Dev Singh were also present.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said that the double engine government of BJP has fulfilled all the promises it had made.
The Congress can be led by a non-Gandhi, but till the matter of leadership is resolved, Rahul Gandhi cannot "close his doors" if asked for advice, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra told NDTV on Friday in an exclusive interview. She said proper organisational elections will be held where anyone can contest for the post of the party president, but added a rider, suggesting that many grassroot level workers feel more comfortable with a Gandhi at the helm.
"I don't think on our part, my mother or my brother, or me, we have any idea... or any entitlement to being leaders of the Congress Party... I certainly don't. I know that my brother doesn't. I know my mother doesn't. We would only be too happy if somebody else rose from the ranks and everybody had faith in them and wanted them to lead," she said.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra admitted on Friday that there was a real possibility of election strategist Prashant Kishor joining the Congress last year but "it did not work out."
The Congress leader told NDTV that the partnership fell through over "multiple" reasons.
"I think it did not work out for multiple reasons. Some on his part, some on our part. I wouldn't want to get into the details of that. Broadly there was an inability to agree on certain issues, which sort of impeded the discussion from moving forward," Priyanka Gandhi said.