Himachal byelections to one Lok Sabha, three assembly seats on October 30
The Election Commission on Tuesday announced that byelections in Mandi parliamentary constituency and three assembly segments of Arki, Jubbal-Kotkhai and Fatehpur in Himachal Pradesh will be held on October 30. The votes will be counted on November 2.
With this, the model code of conduct comes into immediate effect in these constituencies.
According to the Representation of the People Act, a byelection must be conducted within six months of the seat falling vacant. However, the byelections were delayed this year due to the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Section 151-A of the Act provides that the EC, in consultation with the central government, can defer the byelection if it certifies that it is difficult to hold the polls within the period.
The EC said a notification will be issued on October 1 and the nomination process will start on the same day. The last date for filing nominations is October 8. The nominations will be scrutinised on October 11 and the last date for withdrawing papers is October 13.
All polling officials shall be double vaccinated against Covid-19.
Seats fell vacant after death of incumbents
The Mandi Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after the death of Ramswaroop Sharma, who was found dead at his Delhi residence in March this year.
The Congress is considering fielding former Congress member of Parlaiament Pratibha Singh, who is the wife of former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, from the Mandi seat even as the BJP has kept its cards close to its chest.
The Arki assembly byelection was necessitated after the death of sitting MLA and six-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh on July 8. Both the BJP and the Congress are yet to reveal the name of their candidates. The ruling BJP is facing rebellion from former MLA Govind Singh Thakur, who is already in campaign mode.
Keen contest for BJP ticket in Fatehgarh, Jubbal-Kotkhai
The Jubbal-Kotkhai seat in Shimla district and Fatehpur in Kangra fell vacant following the death of incumbent legislators Narinder Bragta in June and Sujan Singh Pathania in February.
Bragta’s son Chetan is tipped to be the BJP’s choice for Jubbal-Kotkhai as the party tries to cash in on sympathy votes though there are a few other party leaders vying for the ticket. For the Congress, Rohit Thakur, a former chief parliamentary secretary, is the obvious choice.
In the politically significant Kangra district, Pathania’s son Bhawani Singh Pathania has staked claim to the Congress ticket from Fatehpur. Bhawani Singh quit a career in the banking and insurance sectors to take the political plunge. He has already launched his poll campaign.
For the BJP, selecting a candidate will not be easy as there is tough competition between former MP Kripal Parmar and local leader Baldev Thakur.