The Election Commission of India on Monday announced that the elections for 18 Rajya Sabha seats, which had been deferred in view of the coronavirus outbreak, will be held on June 19.

This came two days after the Centre extended the nationwide lockdown to contain the pandemic till June 30, but said that all activities will restart in a phased manner outside containment zones. The first phase of this reopening, called Unlock 1, will focus on economic activities.

Polls will be held for four seats each from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, three each from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, two from Jharkhand and one each from the northeastern states of Meghalaya and Manipur. The voting will begin at 9 am on June 19.

The Election Commission said it has decided to hold the elections and counting on the given date after reviewing the matter and taking into account the Union Home Ministry’s guidelines issued on May 30. Inputs from the Chief Electoral Officers of the states concerned were also taken into consideration.

“The Commission has also decided that the Chief Secretaries shall depute a senior officer from the state to ensure that the extant instructions regarding Covid-19 containment measures are complied with while making arrangements for conducting the elections,” it said in a statement. “Further, the Commission has appointed Chief Electoral Officer concerned as Observer for the election in the respective state.”

The elections for these seats were earlier scheduled for March 26, the day after the initial three-week countrywide lockdown began. But the Election Commission said that the “unforeseen” situation arising out of the outbreak calls for avoiding any kind of gathering. “The prevailing unforeseen situation of public health emergency indicates the need for avoidance of possibilities of gatherings of any nature, which expose all concerned to possible health hazard,” a press release from the election body read.

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