ECI announces schedule for bye-elections in West Bengal and Odisha
New Delhi, September 4, 2021
The Election Commission of India (ECI) today announced the schedule for bye-elections to three assembly constituencies in West Bengal -- including Bhabanipur from where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee intends to contest -- and one in Odisha.
Samserganj and Jangipur in West Bengal and Pipli in Odisha were among the constituencies where polls were deferred in various parts of the country in April-May this year following the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the schedule drawn up by the Election Commission, polling will take place in these four constituencies on September 30.
The notification of the bye-election will be issued on September 6. The last date for nominations will be September 13. Scrutiny will take place on September 14 and the last date for withdrawal of candidature will be September 16. The date of counting will be on October 3 and the election process should be completed by October 5.
The Commission said that, as of date, there were three deferred adjourned polls (two in West Bengal and one in Odisha), three vacancies in Parliamentary constituencies and 32 vacancies in Legislative Assemblies of various States and Union Territories.
The EC had held a meeting on September 1 through video conferencing to assess the feasibility of holding bye-elections with Chief Secretaries, senior officers from the Department of Health & Home Affairs, DGPs and Chief Electoral Officers from concerned States and Union Territories.
The officers shared their inputs, constraints, issues and challenges in conducting bye-elections in their States/UT because of the COVID-l9 pandemic, flood situation and festivals and so on. The Chief Secretaries had also sent their views and inputs in writing.
The Chief Secretaries of States of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Adviser of UT of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, brought to the notice of the Commission the constraints related to flood situations, festivals and pandemic. They suggested that it would be advisable to have bye-elections after the end of the festival season.
Besides these, some states have also brought to the notice of the Commission that the Union Government, various research institutions, technical expert committees and professionals have predicted the possibility of a third wave of COVID-19 October onwards.
However, West Bengal and Odisha Chief Secretaries informed that the COVID situation was under control and polls could be held. West Bengal Chief Secretary said that the flood situation in the state has not affected the poll-bound Assembly Constituencies and the State was fully geared up to hold the elections.
He has also informed that given administrative exigencies and public interest and to avoid a vacuum in the state, bye-elections for Bhabanipur, Kolkata from where Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister intends to contest elections, may be conducted.
Banerjee had lost in the assembly election from Nandigram but was sworn in as Chief Minister. Under Article 164 (4) of the Constitution of India, a Minister who is not a member of the Legislature of the State for six consecutive months would at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister.
The EC said such a situation would lead to a constitutional crisis and vacuum in the top executive post in the Government unless the election was held immediately.
“After taking into consideration the inputs and views of the Chief Secretaries of the concerned States and respective Chief Electoral Officers, while the Commission has decided not to hold bye-elections in other 31 Assembly Constituencies and 3 Parliamentary Constituencies and considering the constitutional exigency and special request from West Bengal, it has decided to hold bye-election in 159- Bhabanipur AC. Much stricter norms have been kept by the Commission as an abundant caution to safeguard from COVID-19 pandemic,” the release said.
As the adjourned poll was deferred vide Commission’s notification dated May 4 and the candidates/political parties had already availed the campaign period from April 29 to the May 3, the Commission has now decided to allow the campaign from September 20 only in these three constituencies.