India, March 22: Bike rallies, a favourite campaigning tool of several political parties have been banned by the Election Commission of India (ECI) for up to 72 hours before polling in an area.

Announcing the ban in a letter to all the state election commission offices in poll-bound states on Monday, the Election Commission said that bike rallies could be misused.

It has been brought to the notice of the Commission that in some places bikes are used by some antisocial elements to intimidate the voters before the poll day and/or on poll day” said the letter which has been signed by Undersecretary Sanjeev Kumar Prasad of ECI. “Kindly inform all concerned stakeholders including candidates/political parties and Commission’s observers for strict compliance” instructed the note, which was issued Monday.

Assembly elections are due to begin in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Kerala from March 27. The results for all the states will be announced on May 2.

In the last few weeks, both the Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have held bike rallies in Bengal while Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also kicked off the BJP’s campaign in the state with a bike rally on March 7 and hence ECI has banned it this time.

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Bike rallies have often been followed up with complaints from the rival side about the number of participating vehicles surpassing the prescribed limit.

A total of 824 assembly constituencies shall be going for polls in four states–Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam–and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

The polling will start on March 27 and end on April 29. The counting of votes for elections to four states and one UT will be held on May 2.

As many as 18.68 crore electors will cast votes at 2.7 lakh polling stations in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, and Puducherry.