In a major political development amid the battle against Coronavirus pandemic, the Election Commission on Friday gave a green light for conducting elections to nine Legislative Council seats in Maharashtra on May 21.
As per media reports, the Shiv Sena chief had dialed up Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday night and apprised him about the situation, requesting his intervention in the political crisis of the state. Later on April 30, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari formally asked the EC to hold the polls on the nine vacant seats on the state legislative council at the earliest. Various political parties also urged the Commission to conduct the polls to the nine seats which have been vacant since April 24. Earlier, the legislative council elections were scheduled to take place on March 28. However, due to Coronavirus restrictions, the Election Commission deferred the polls indefinitely.
This development has come as a big relief for Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray whose six-month deadline to become a legislator was nearing to a close. After being sworn-in as the Maharashtra CM last year on November 28, Uddhav Thackeray has to become an elected legislator to either house of the council before May 28 in order to continue holding the CM post. As per the law, any minister needs to be elected to, or be a member of, a legislative house within six months of being sworn-in. Otherwise, the minister has to step down.
According to the latest EC schedule, the date of the issue of the election notification is May 4. The date for submitting nominations is May 11, which will be scrutinized on May 12. The last day of nomination withdrawal is May 14. The polls will be held on May 21 between 9 am to 4 pm and the votes will be counted on the same day at 5 pm. Owing to the strength of the three-party (Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena) alliance in the Maharashtra council, Thackeray is determined of a victory. The state government has also given an assurance to the EC about its commitment to maintaining the utmost hygienic conditions during the procedure of the polls amid the pandemic circumstances. Significantly, the Commission has appointed Maharashtra’s Chief Electoral Officer as an observer for the election.
Additionally, it has been reported that after Maharashtra Legislative Council elections are successfully conducted, the Election Commission will take a decision on conducting other polls that were postponed due to the Coronavirus restrictions, including elections to fill the 18 seats in the RajyaSabha.
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