The Commission vide press note No. ECI/PN/61/2021 dated 3rd May 2021 deferred the adjourned poll (which was scheduled to be held on 16.05.2021) and extended the period of elections in 110-Pipli Assembly Constituency (AC) of Odisha and 58-Jangipur & 56-Samserganj AC of West Bengalafter taking note of lockdown/restrictions under Disaster Management Act, 2005, as issued by NDMA/SDMA. Further, the Commission vide press note No. ECI/PN/64/2021 dated 5th May 2021 deferred the bye-elections in various States/UT, after taking all material facts and inputs of Chief Electoral Officers of various States/UT in view of the pandemic.
As on date there are three deferred adjourned polls (two in the state of West Bengal and one in the state of Odisha), three vacancies in Parliamentary Constituencies and 32 vacancies in Legislative Assemblies of various States/UT.
In order to assess the feasibility of holding bye-elections in various States/UT, a meeting was held through video conferencing on 01.09.2021 with Chief Secretaries, senior officers from the department of Health & Home Affairs, DGPs from the concerned States/UT and Chief Electoral Officers from concerned States/UT. The Chief Secretaries/Chief Electoral Officers shared their inputs, constraints, issues and challenges in conducting bye-elections in their States/UT in view of COVID-l9 pandemic, flood situation and festivals innear future and so on.The Chief Secretaries from the concerned poll going States have also sent their views and inputs in writing.
The Chief Secretaries of States of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Adviser of UT of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, brought to the notice of the Commission the constraints related to flood situations, festivals and pandemic. They suggested that it would be advisable to have bye-elections after the end of festival season.
Besides these, some states have also brought to the notice of the Commission that Government of India, various research institutions, technical expert committees and professionals have predicted the possibility of third wave of COVID-19 October onwards. MHA has also issued detailed instructions on prevention of COVID-19 on August 28, 2021.
The Chief Secretary, Odisha also informed that COVID situation is under control and poll can be held. The Chief Secretary West Bengal informed that COVID-19 situation is fully under control. He also brought to the notice that the flood situation in the state has not affected the poll bound Assembly Constituencies and the State is fully geared up to hold the elections. He also cited that under Article 164(4) of the Constitution of India, a Minister who is not a member of the Legislature of the State for a period of six consecutive months shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister and there will be a constitutional crisis and vacuum in the top executive posts in the Government unless elections are held immediately. He has also informed that in view of administrative exigencies and public interest and to avoid vacuum in the state, bye-elections for 159- Bhabanipur, Kolkata from where Ms. Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister intends to contest elections may be conducted.
After taking into consideration the inputs and views of the Chief Secretaries of the concerned States and respective Chief Electoral Officers, while the Commission has decided not to hold bye-elections in other 31 AssemblyConstituencies and 3 Parliamentary Constituencies and considering the constitutional exigency and special request from State of West Bengal, it has decided to hold bye-electionin 159- Bhabanipur AC. Much stricter norms have been kept by the Commission as an abundant caution to safeguard from COVID-19 pandemic.The schedule for the bye-election is attached at Annexure-1.
Further, the Commission has also decided to hold polls in 3 Assembly Constituencies namely 56-Samserganj, 58- Jangipur of West Bengal and 1 Assembly Constituency 110-Pipli of Odishawhere the adjourned poll was deferred vide Commission’s notification 4th May, 2021, as per the schedule given in Annexure- 2.Separate notifications are being issued in this regard.
The candidates/political partiesfor these 3 ACs havealready availed the campaign period from 29.04.2021 to 03.05.2021. In view of this, the Commission has now decidedto allow the campaign from 20.09.2021 only in these constituencies.
The published Electoral Rolls for the aforesaid Assembly Constituencies w.r.t 01.01.2021will be used for these elections.
ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES (EVMs) and VVPATs
The Commission has decided to use EVMs and VVPATs in the bye-election in allthepollingstations.Adequate numbers of EVMs and VVPATs have been made available and all steps have been taken toensure that the polls are conducted smoothly with the help of these machines.
IDENTIFICATION OF VOTERS
Electoral Photo Identity cards (EPIC) shall be the main document of identification of a voter. However, any of the below mentioned identification documents can also be shown at the polling station:
- Aadhar Card,
- MNREGA Job Card,
- Passbooks with photograph issued by Bank/Post Office,
- Health Insurance Smart Card issued under the scheme of Ministry of Labour,
- Driving License,
- PAN Card,
- Smart Card issued by RGI under NPR,
- Indian Passport,
- Pension document with photograph,
- Service Identity Cards with photograph issued to employees by Central/State Govt./PSUs/Public Limited Companies, and
- Official identity cards issued to MPs/MLAs/MLCs.
MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT
The Model code of conduct shall come into force with immediate effect from 04.09.2021onwards in the district(s) in which the whole or any part of the Assembly constituency going for election is included, subject to partial modification as issued vide Commission’ s instruction No. 437/6/1NST/2016-CCS, dated 29th June, 2017 (available on the commission’s website).
. BROAD GUIDELINES TO BE FOLLOWED DURING THE CONDUCT OF BYE-ELECTIONS /ADJOURNED POLL DURING the period of COVID-19
The Commission has issued broad guidelines on 21stAugust, 2020. Also, it has issued further guidelines on 09.10.2020, 09.04.2021,16.04.2021,21.04.2021, 22.04.2021,23.04.2021 and 28.04.2021 available on Commission’s websiteeci.gov.in or linkhttps://eci.gov.in/candidate-political-parties/instructions-on-covid-19/.Also, vide letter No.40-3/2020-DM-I(A) dated 28thAugust, 2021, instructions for implementation of targeted and prompt actions for COVID management has been extended by MHA upto 30thSeptember, 2021. After taking inputs from the political parties/Chief Electoral Officers and keeping the extant instructions of MHA/MoHFW in view,the Commission has further strengthened these guidelines. Further, the Commission’s all instructions relating to conduct of GeneralElection in West Bengal during the COVID-19period shall also be mutatis mutandis applicable for these bye-elections/adjourned poll.