The Election Commission on Monday announced the date of biennial polls for 18 Rajya Sabha seats in seven states which were deferred in the wake of Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent nationwide lockdown.
According to a statement released by the poll body, elections for 18 Rajya Sabha seats will be held on June 19. The counting of votes will be conducted on the same day.
With lockdown gradually easing in the country, the Election Commission declared the dates for Rajya Sabha polls in the states of Gujarat (4 seats), Andhra Pradesh (4 seats), Madhya Pradesh (3 seats), Rajasthan (3 seats), Jharkhand (2 seats), Manipur (1 seat), and Meghalaya (1 seat).Along with the 18 remaining seats, fresh polls for six other Rajya Sabha seats will also be held on June 19.
The Commission has also appointed Chief Electoral Officers of the respective states as the observers for the polls. Furthermore, State chief secretaries have been asked to depute one senior officer for each state who will ensure that the COVID-19 guidelines are being followed during the conduct of the polls.
The decision to hold elections has been taken after reviewing the pandemic situation in the country and the guidelines issued by the Home Ministry on May 30 on the gradual reopening of the country.
Earlier, the seats were scheduled to go to polls on March 26. But the Modi government imposed countrywide lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic after which the polls were postponed by the EC keeping in view that the process will require a large gathering of political leaders and electoral officers.
“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,” a statement by the election body had said.
In February, the apex poll body had announced the polls to fill 55 seats across 17 states who were retiring in the month of April. Later, in March, 37 candidates in 10 states were appointed unopposed.
With over 8,000 new infections in the past 24 hours on June 2, the number of Coronavirus cases in India is nearing the 2-lakh mark. The country has now become the 7th worst pandemic-hit country in the world after Italy.
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