EC announces by-polls in 17 states, Puducherry ; single-phase polls in Maharashtra, Haryana on Oct. 21
New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS): By-polls to 64 Assembly seats in 17 states and one Union Territory will be held on October 21 and the results will be declared on October 24, the Election Commission said on Saturday.
The poll panel announced the schedule for Assembly by-elections to 15 seats in Karnataka, 11 seats in Uttar Pradesh, five seats each in Kerala and Bihar, four seats each in Gujarat, Assam and Punjab, three seats in Sikkim, two seats each in Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan and one seat each in Arunachal Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Odisha and Puducherry.
The EC said the notification for the by-elections will be released on September 23.
The last date for filing nominations is September 30, it said, adding that the scrutiny of the nomination papers will be done by October 1.
“The last date of withdrawal of candidature is October 3 and the date before which the election should be completed is October 27,” the EC said.
Single-phase assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana will be also held on October 21 and the BJP will take on the Congress-led opposition to retain power in both the states.
The date for the polls in the two states was announced by the EC on Saturday.
The counting of votes will be taken up on October 24, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora told a press conference.
The term of the 288-member Maharashtra assembly ends on November 9 and that of the 90-member Haryana assembly on November 2.
Notifications for the two assembly elections will be issued on September 27 and the nomination process will begin on the same day. October 4 is the last date of filing nominations.
While scrutiny of nomination papers will take place on October 5, October 7 is the last date for candidates to withdraw from the electoral battle.
The assembly elections are the first after Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP to power at the Centre for a second term in May.
The government’s decision to abrogate Article 370 provisions, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, is among the BJP campaign’s key themes for the assembly polls.
BJP leaders sound confident of retaining power in both the states, where opposition parties have been weakened with many key leaders from their camp joining the saffron party in the recent weeks.
In Maharashtra, the alliance between the BJP and the Shiv Sena has not been finalised yet, though talks between the two parties have been going in for some time.
The BJP wants to fight a larger share of the 288 seats in the assembly while the Sena wants it to stick to the earlier agreed formula that both will contest an equal number of constituencies.
Both parties could not agree to a seat-sharing deal even in the 2014 polls, leading to them fighting the elections separately.
The BJP had won 122 seats and the Sena 63 seats.They joined hands after the polls to form government.
Asked why elections to the Jharkhand assembly were not announced on Saturday when the country was discussing simultaneous polls, Arora said the term of the state assembly there ends on January 9.
“If the leader of the House there wants to dissolve the assembly and advance the elections, then it is a separate matter. But why should the commission want to advance it,” he said.
While there is a debate on simultaneous polls, “unless there is a very clear consensus amongst the political parties on the issue, this cannot be taken as a given template”, the chief election commissioner said
Arora was also asked whether the EC will ban the use of Article 370 in election campaigns as it had banned the use of actions taken by defence forces across the border. He did not spell out a clear reply.
“(Article) 370 is a decision taken by the Parliament of India. The only place where it can be challenged is the honourable Supreme Court of India,” he said.
Referring to the use of paper trail machines, he said on the lines of the Lok Sabha polls, the commission has mandated that VVPAT slips count of five randomly selected polling stations in each assembly constituency of Haryana and Maharashtra will be done for verification of the result obtained from the electronic voting machines (EVMs).
Blow to rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs in K’taka after EC move
New Delhi, Sep. 21 (IANS): In a major blow to the rebel Congress and Janata Dal-Secular MLAs who were disqualified as legisltors, the Election Commission on Saturday announced by-elections in Karnataka on October 21.
The by-elections are crucial for the survival of the newly formed B S Yediyurappa-led BJP government which needs to win at least six assembly seats to stay in power.
The EC announced the polling dates for 15 assembly seats on October 21. The counting of the votes will take place on October 24. The last date for completing the elections is October 27. The last date for filing nominations for the by-elections is September 30.
The by-elections for 15 seats was neccessiated after 15 rebel MLAs of the ruling Congress and the JD-S government switched their loyalty to the saffron party.
The 14-month-old Congress-JD-S government led by H D Kumaraswamy collapased after the 15 MLAs resigned as legislators in late July this year.
Significantly, the announcement of the schedule of the by-elections means that the disqualified MLAs will not be able to contest.
In a dramatic turn of events, former Karnataka Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar disqualified as many as 17 rebel MLAs till the end of the current Assembly term running from 2018 to 2023, a day before the trust vote in the Karnataka Assembly.
The constituencies going to the polls include — Gokak, Athani, Ranebennur, Kagwad, Hirekerur, Yellapur, Yeshwanthpura, Vijayanagara, Shivajinagar, Hosakote, Hunsur, Krishnarajpet, Mahalakshmi Layout, KR Pura and Chikballapura.
However, the poll panel did not announce the schedule for the R R Nagar and Maski assembly constituency.
Following their disqualifiaction, the rebel MLAs had approached the Supreme Court to quash their disqualification. However, Justice M M Shantanagoudar recused himself earlier this week citing he is from Karnataka and that his conscience does not permit him to hear the case.
After the counting for the 15 assembly constituencies, the strength of the Karnataka Assembly will be 222. The ruling BJP currently has the support of 106 MLAs, including independent MLA H. Nagesh.