ECI’s indifference to hold Bihar council polls raises eyebrows
Elections on eight council seats were due on May 24, another fell vacant in July.Updated: Sep 13, 2020 19:11 IST
The Election commission of India’s (ECI) silence on conducting the biennial elections for nine legislative council seats in Bihar has baffled leaders cutting across the party lines.
The eight seats have been lying vacant in the upper house since May 24 even though the state legislative council has completed all formalities for elections and intimated vacancies to the ECI in advance, officials said. Another seat fell vacant after the demise of a BJP legislator in May.
“Why is the ECI deferring the elections for the legislative council, which is conducted with a limited number of electors, even as it has given its go-ahead for the assembly polls to be conducted on a large scale during coronavirus pandemic?” asked a former JD(U) legislator, seeking his re-election to the council.
The elections are due in four graduate constituencies of Patna, Tirhut, Darbhanga and Kosi and four teachers’ constituencies of Patna, Tirhut, Saran and Darbhanga after the elected representatives completed their six-year tenure on May 24. The local bodies constituency of Darbhanga fell vacant after the death of BJP MLC Sunil Kumar Singh in May due to Covid-19.
Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap said that any seat to be filled up through election in the legislative council should not be left vacant for more than six months. “I hope the ECI must have kept the constitutional obligations on the issue in mind and fill up the vacancies on election-based seats within the set time frame,” said Kashyap.
State Congress chief Madan Mohan Jha said, “The legislative council polls could be the testing ground for the ECI to assess the state’s preparedness for assembly elections as the latter required the mobilisation of resources on a large scale.” He added that fewer electors cast their votes in the legislative council constituencies as compared to at least 3 to 3.50 lakh voters of any assembly seat.
BJP leader Nawal Kishore Yadav, who is looking to contest from Patna’s teachers’ constituency, also expressed dismay over the deferment of the polls in the name of Covid-19 pandemic.
Acting chairman of the legislative council Awadhesh Narayan Singh said that the council had notified the vacancies and urged the ECI to elect the leaders before the expiry of tenures of elected leaders. Currently, as many as 21 seats in the legislative council are lying vacant in the house of 75 members. Apart from the elected representatives, the state government is yet to nominate leaders on 12 seats.
Building construction minister Ashok Choudhary, information and public relations department minister Neeraj Kumar, Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) chief Madan Mohan Jha, Dilip Kumar Chaudhary (of JDU), NK Yadav, among others have ceased to be the members of legislative council on the expiry of their tenure and are seeking re-election.