'Declare polls for 9 vacant Maharashtra Council seats'

Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari requests EC to declare elections for 9 vacant Council seats

The Election Commission is likely to hold a video-conference on Friday to assess the feasibility of holding polls

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Thursday requested the Election Commission to hold polls to fill the nine seats of the legislative council of the state vacant since April 24, ‘at the earliest’.

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Maharashtra Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray, is likely to contest for one of the seats. He will have to relinquish the chief minister’s post if he cannot get elected to any of the two Houses by May 28.

The Election Commission is likely to hold a video-conference on Friday to assess the feasibility of holding polls to the nine vacant seats of the Legislative Council of Maharashtra, as the nationwide lockdown enforced to contain Covid-19 pandemic may not be completely withdrawn after May 3.

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Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora is at present stranded in the United States due to the ban on the arrival of any commercial passenger aircraft to any airport in India. He is likely to hold a video-conference with the two other Election Commissioners, Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra, on Friday, sources in New Delhi said.

They are expected to discuss the possibility of holding the polls for the nine vacant seats of the Legislative Council of Maharashtra amid the lockdown.

Koshyari pointed out in his letter to the EC that the Union government had already announced certain relaxation to the lockdown in the country. He requested the poll-panel to consider holding the polls with certain guidelines to be adhered to stop COVID-19 virus from spreading.

Sources said that the EC was studying the special arrangements which had been made to hold national elections in South Korea recently.

The EC had earlier deferred the polling to fill up the 18 vacancies in the Rajya Sabha in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The polling to elect the 18 members of the Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya and Rajasthan had been scheduled to take place on March 26, but the EC had on March 24 had postponed it in view of the lockdown imposed by the Centre and the State Governments to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thirty-seven seats in the upper House of Parliament have already been filled up uncontested without requiring polling.

The poll-panel had on April 3 further postponed the election process “beyond the prescribed term(s)” of the respective Rajya Sabha seats.