The Election Commission on Saturday announced that bye-elections to six Rajya Sabha seats in Odisha, Gujarat and Bihar will take place on July 5. Three seats are currently vacant in the Upper House from Odisha, two from Gujarat and one from Bihar.
The seats in Gujarat fell vacant after Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Amit Shah and Smriti Irani’s election to the Lok Sabha in May. Shah had won from Gandhinagar and Irani from Amethi Lok Sabha constituencies, respectively.
In Bihar, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad won the elections from Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat, resulting in a bye-poll in the state.
In Odisha, Biju Janata Dal leader Achutananda Samanta was elected to the Lok Sabha and his colleague Pratap Keshari Deb was elected to the state Assembly. Soumya Ranjan Patnaik had resigned earlier this month after being elected to the state Assembly.
In a statement, the poll body clarified that bye-elections to all Houses, including the Rajya Sabha, were considered as “separate vacancies” and separate notifications are issued and separate elections will be held, though the schedule could remain the same.
The Election Commission also cited two Delhi High Court rulings of 1994 and 2009, which had backed the system of holding separate bye-polls in the same State under provisions of the Representation of the People Act.
The notifications for the elections will be issued on June 18, the last date for nomination is June 25. The last date for withdrawal of candidatures is June 28, the poll body said.
The Congress had demanded that the bye-polls to the two vacant seats in Gujarat should be held simultaneously as it felt that it had a chance to win one of the two Rajya Sabha seats vacated by Shah and Irani. It had said that holding the elections separately would be against the rules. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi had urged the Election Commission earlier this week to hold two Rajya Sabha bye-elections under one notification and not issue separate notifications.