Zoom News : Sep 28, 2021, 01:40 PM
New Delhi: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday announced by-polls to three Lok Sabha and 30 assembly seats on October 30, saying the schedule was finalised after reviewing the situations related to the pandemic, floods, festivals, cold conditions in certain regions and feedback from local authorities.The Lok Sabha by-polls will be held to one seat each in the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Madhya Pradesh (Khandwa) and Himachal Pradesh (Mandi). Assembly bye-elections will be held at one constituency each in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Mizoram, Maharashtra, Nagaland, and Telangana; two each in Karnataka, Bihar, and Rajasthan; three each in Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Madhya Pradesh; four in West Bengal; and five in Assam.The by-polls were deferred in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The ECI’s guidelines for holding polls during the pandemic will apply to the by-elections on October 30 and mandate limited participation in the campaign and the use of masks, sanitisers, and gloves.The ECI earlier this month announced by-polls to four assembly seats on September 30 (Thursday). They include West Bengal’s Bhabanipur, where Mamata Banerjee is contesting from as she needs to get elected to the state assembly by November to continue as the chief minister.The fresh by-poll schedule was announced on the day Calcutta high court rejected the public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a stay on the by-election to Bhabanipur assembly seat.Banerjee took oath as the chief minister on May 5 and requires getting elected within six months to retain the post. Her Trinamool Congress (TMC) swept to power for the third time this summer by winning 213 out of the 292 seats for which polls were held in eight phases in March and April. But Banerjee lost the polls from Nandigram to her protégé-turned-adversary Suvendu Adhikari of the Bharatiya Janata Party by a narrow margin of 1,956 votes.The TMC pressed for holding the by-polls as soon as possible. It was critical of the ECI over the delay in announcing the schedule.Apart from Bhabanipur, by-polls are also being held at Jangipur, Samerganj (West Bengal), and Pipli (Odisha) seats on Thursday. The ECI allowed 14-day campaigning in Bhabanipur while curtailing the electioneering in other constituencies as per the pandemic situation. Public gatherings were prohibited during the nomination process. For indoor campaigns, 30% of the allowed capacity or 200 persons, whichever was less, was permitted.The daily count of Covid-19 cases shot up from around 200 on February 26, when the eight-phase elections in Bengal were announced, to more than 27,000 on April 29 when the polls ended. Health experts linked the surge in infections to political rallies that violated the Covid-19 protocol.