Law Kumar Mishra
The Election Commision (EC) has started preparations for the Bihar assembly election to be conducted on schedule, as the term of the present (16th) assembly ends on November 29 and the poll may be held in phases between October and November.
The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partner, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has opposed the move to hold the election on its scheduled time in view of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Union Food and Consumer Welfare Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, the LJP President, Chirag Paswan’s father, even said the President’s Rule should be imposed after the term of the current House expired. In a resolution, the LJP Parliamentary Board had recommended to reschedule the election as the party as the virus threat perception is high, lives of citizens cannot be risked.
"Numerous school teachers would be engaged in poll duties, thousands of security men would be pressed into service and crores of electorate would be asked to line up at polling centres, all within the danger zone of coronavirus. Health services in Bihar are still off the mark to fight the virus," said Ram Vilas Paswan.
Bihar’s chief electoral officer, HR Sriniwas, held a video conference with the district magistrates, who are designated election officers, and directed them to set up a cluster for every 10 polling booths. Polling staff engaged in the 2019 LS poll should be trained soon. The names of the ‘duplicate’ voters should be deleted from the electoral rolls, all EVMS and VVPAT machines examined.
Senior SP of Patna, Upendra Sharma, on Tuesday asked all CIs and SHOs to visit the polling stations in their jurisdictions for security arrangements. The CEO issued guidelines to the election officers to observe the SOPs of corona containment during the campaigning, canvassing and electioneering.
According to the Patna election office, a rise in polling booth by setting up 1.8 lakh additional centres, and limiting the voters per booth to 1,000 and extra EVMs, including VVPATs, have been recommended. Besides, the optional postal ballot facility has been extended to senior citizens over 80 years, disabled voters, people engaged in essential services and voters, who are corona patients or suspects, in quarantine.
All parties have been engaged in virtual campaigning since June but has suspended it in 16 districts during the flood.
Keeping in view the EC decision to hold election in next few weeks, CM Nitish Kumar either inaugurated or laid foundations of several projects of road construction, building constructions and water resources departments, including 500 bus stands, worth Rs25,000 crore over the last four days.