Days after the Supreme Court ruled that the state government cannot postpone the elections, the State Election Commission on Monday released schedule for by-polls in Dhule, Nandurbar, Akola, Washim, Nagpur and Palghar zilla parishads and panchayat samitis in these districts. The polling will be held for the by-elections of 85 constituencies of six ZPs and 144 constituencies of PS on October 5 while counting will take place on October 6.
The SC had said that the Election Commission has the authority to declare the poll schedule and postpone the elections.
The ensuing by-polls will be crucial for the Maha Vikas Aghadi government especially when the Supreme Court has scrapped OBC elections in local bodies citing it was beyond the 50% quota ceiling. The restoration of quota will be possible only after the State Commission of Backward Classes (SCBC) compiles the empirical data on OBCs. Ruling and Opposition parties were unanimous that the elections be postponed but in the wake of apex court’s order the State Election Commissioner UPS Madan today declared the poll schedule.
The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi partners including Shiv Sena, NCP, Congress and opposition BJP have already announced that they will field OBC candidates on the vacant posts as the reservation has been scrapped. The MVA partners insist that the Centre should provide the empirical data on OBCs while BJP claims it was not required as SCBC’s exercise will pave the way for restoration of quota.
The ruling and opposition parties will be pitted against each other in these by-polls on the politically crucial OBC quota restoration as it will be the major plank in the upcoming by-polls.
Madan had said the by-elections for the vacant posts in Dhule, Nandurbar, Akola, Washim and Nagpur Zilla Parishads and their adjoining Panchayat Samitis were to be held on July 19, 2021. However, in view of the Supreme Court order dated July 6, 2021 and the request made by the state government to postpone the by-elections due to Covid-19, the SEC had postponed the elections.
In the case, which was heard on September 9, 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that the state government's restrictions on Covid-19 of August 11, 2021 did not apply to by-elections. In view of the apex court order, the SEC today ordered the by-poll schedule especially in the wake of dip in the COVID 19 patients in the state.
The SEC had sought reports from Dhule, Nandurbar, Akola, Washim and Nagpur district collectors on the number of corona patients and the daily death toll during the week. It showed that the Corona situation in these districts was under control.
The by-elections for Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti of Dhule, Nandurbar, Akola, Washim and Nagpur announced on June 22, 2021 did not include the by-elections of Palghar Zilla Parishad and its adjoining Panchayat Samiti. Because at that time Palghar district was included in level-3 as per the norms of state government regarding CPVID 19. Therefore, by-elections were not declared.
However, Madan said the by-poll process in Palghar ZP and PS has also been launched. According to the by-poll schedule for six ZPs and PS, nominations will be filed from September 15 to 20 and scrutiny on September 21.
As far as the by polls in Dhule, Nandurbar, Akola, Washim and Nagpur ZPs and the PS, the list of valid candidates will be published on September 21.
The withdrawal of nominations will be on September 27 in all six ZPs and PS where there is no appeal in the District Court against the decision of the Returning Officer regarding the nomination papers. However, nominations can be withdrawn till September 29, 2021 in case there are appeals in the court.
(This is a developing copy)
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