BHOPAL: Election Commission of India seems to be in dilemma over holding by-elections in the current unprecedented situation. First it had recommended that elections could not be held but retracted the next day clarifying that the final decision will be taken in a meeting on Friday.
The ECI shot a letter to the ministry of legislative department on July 22 mentioning that ‘the process of by-elections to the Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies to fill up the casual vacancies could not be held within the period contemplated in section 151A of the Representation of the People Act.’
The ECI in its letter has mentioned that ‘the situation of Covid-19 has not improved in several parts of the country and conducting election in this situation would pose a grave risk to health and safety of the citizens.’ The letter also refers to the guidelines mentioned by the ministry of home affairs released on June 29 on phased reopening of lockdown which continues imposition of restrictions in certain sectors while extending lockdown in containment zones.
The ECI had also cited flood situation and heavy rains in several parts of country as another reason. It said that district administration would be engaged in flood control and mitigation works during this period. Twin constraints would impact significantly electoral activity including training, preparations of EVM, VVPAT and logistics.
‘The Commission has decided that under these circumstances, it would not be possible to hold by-election in various states until the monsoon has receded. Further, it is also hoped that by that time Covid 19 outbreak will also subside and by that time all SoPs, guidelines, procedural preparations will be in place for conducting election during pandemic situation,’ recommended the ECI.
The ECI had stated clearly that the by-elections scheduled on seats up to 7 September, 2020 may be deferred or these elections be held as soon as the situation becomes conducive. However, later on July 3, the ECI issued a clarification that the matter of timings etc of by-elections is slotted for discussion in the election commission meeting to be held on July 24.