Election Commission announces postponement of RS polls

New Delhi: Amid the global coronavirus scare, the Election Commission on Tuesday announced the postponement of Rajya Sabha elections scheduled for March 26. The commission will review the situation after March 31.

“The prevailing unforeseen situation of public health emergency indicates the need for avoidance of possibilities of gatherings of any nature, which expose all concerned to possible health hazard,” the Election Commission said in a note.

ECI press note (page 1)
ECI press note (page 2)

The poll process would have involved the gathering of polling officials, agents of political parties, support officials and MLAs, said the poll body, “which may not be suitable in view of the prevailing unforeseen situation and related advisories in the country.”

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Nominations were filed for 55 Rajya Sabha seats in 17 states. Of these, 37 candidates were elected unopposed after the deadline for withdrawal of nomination ended on Wednesday.

The decision regarding holding the Rajya Sabha election for the remaining 18 seats will now be taken based on the prevailing situation post March 31.

Elections are now to be held for the 18 seats which include four each in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, three each in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, two in Jharkhand and one each in Manipur and Meghalaya.

Manipur’s titular king Sanajaoba Leishemba is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate for the lone Rajya Sabha seat from the state going to polls. He would be up against former MLA Tongbram Mangibabu of the Congress and Honreikhui Kashung of Naga People’s Front (NPF).

The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) has put W R Kharlukhi, president National People Party, Meghalaya unit as its candidate for the lone Rajya Sabha seat. He is pitted against Meghalaya Congress’s Kennedy Khyriem.

Assam’s three candidates — veteran journalist Ajit Bhuyan from the Congress-AIUDF camp, NDA candidate Bhubaneswar Kalita and BJP and its two ally parties — Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) — candidate Biswajit Daimary have been elected unopposed.

Coronavirus cases have crossed 500 in India so far, according to health ministry data on Tuesday.

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