The Election Commission of India on Friday announced that it would conduct 65 pending bye-elections in various states and the General Assembly polls in Bihar around the same time.
“One of the major factors in clubbing them together is the relative ease of movement of CAPF [Central Armed Police Forces]/ other law and order forces, and related logistics issues,” the Election Commission said in a press release.
The dates would be announced at an appropriate time, the poll body said, adding that the elections in Bihar needed to held before November 29. Bye-elections are due in 64 Assembly constituencies and one Parliamentary seat.
The decision was taken at an Election Commission meeting on Friday. “The commission reviewed the reports and inputs from chief secretaries/ chief electoral officers of many of the concerned states seeking deferment of the bye-elections in their states in view of several factors, including the extra-ordinary heavy rains in some places and other constraints like pandemic, etc,” it said.
Several political parties in Bihar have opposed the decision to hold elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. Various Opposition parties in the state, including the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and Hindustan Awami Morcha had submitted a memorandum to the poll panel on July 17 urging it to assure voters that the polls would not become a coronavirus “super-spreader” event.
On August 21, former Union minister Yashwant Sinha also called for postponing the state Assembly polls, citing the coronavirus crisis. On August 28, the Supreme Court rejected a petition seeking to defer the elections. “Covid-19 cannot be a ground for stopping elections and interfering with the powers of the Election Commission,” said Justice Ashok Bhushan. “This court cannot tell the Chief Election Commissioner what to do. He [CEC] will consider everything.”
Bihar has so far reported 1,42,967 coronavirus cases and 672 people have died due to the infection, according to the Union health ministry. The tally of recovered patients stood at 1,24,976.