The Election Commission on Thursday said that the bye-election to seven vacant Rajya Sabha seats for six states would be held on October 4, PTI reported.

Bye-polls are conducted to fill vacant seats. Currently, there are two vacancies from Tamil Nadu and one seat each of West Bengal, Assam, Maharashtra, Puducherry and Madhya Pradesh are empty.

The Madhya Pradesh seat has been vacant since Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot was appointed the governor of Karnataka in July.

The two seats in Tamil Nadu were left vacant after All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader KP Munusamy and R Vaithilingam resigned as members of the Upper House, PTI reported.

Munusamy and Vaithilingam now serve as MLAs in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.

The Rajya Sabha seat for Assam had been vacated after Assembly speaker Biswajit Daimary resigned as a member. He was elected unopposed in 2020 while he was a member of the Bodoland People’s Front.

However, Daimary defected to the BJP in November.

Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal is likely to contest for the seat for Assam, News 18 reported. He has served as the chief minister of the state between 2016 and 2021.

In West Bengal, the vacancy arose when Trinamool Congress leader and Minister of State Irrigation and Waterways Manas Ranjan Bhunia resigned as a Rajya Sabha member.

Sushmita Dev, who left the Congress for the Trinamool Congress in 2021, is expected to contest for the vacant seat, according to News 18.

Dev was a Lok Sabha MP from Assam’s Silchar constituency between 2014 and 2019.

The Rajya Sabha seat in Maharashtra became empty after Congress leader Rajeev Satav’s death on May 16.

Now, the seat for Puducherry will become vacant after incumbent member N Gokulakrishnan’s term ends on October 6.

The Rajya Sabha elections are indirect, unlike the Lok Sabha elections, where citizens choose their representatives.

The president picks the members nominated to the Upper House. They are generally eminent personalities from various domains, including economics, social services, arts, culture, sports.

The MLAs then vote through the single transferable vote system. They have to mark three candidates according to their order of preference.

The candidate who is the top choice of 10 or more MLAs gets elected to the Upper House for a term of six years.

The Election Commission issued an order saying that “broad guidelines of Covid-19” would have to be followed during the polls and at the time of counting of the votes.

The commission said that chief secretaries of the state were asked to depute senior officers to oversee the arrangements of the polls. The officials would have to ensure that “extant instructions regarding Covid-19 containment measures are complied with” during the elections.