NEW DELHI :
Election Commission (EC) on Monday announced elections to 18 Rajya Sabha seats to take place on 19 June. This includes four seats each from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, three each from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, two from Jharkhand and one each from Manipur and Meghalaya.
The elections are significant not just because it will be the first such electoral process ever since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the country but also because these 18 seats are part of the 55 Rajya Sabha seats which fell vacant earlier this year. Out of these 55 seats, 37 were filled uncontested and elections for the remaining had to be postponed due to the pandemic.
Elections to these 18 Rajya Sabha seats will be [politically crucial as it would be closely contested particularly in states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress would be in a direct contest and the outcome could add strength to either the treasury or opposition benches.
Polling and counting for votes will take place on 19 June and the entire election process has to be completed before 22 June. The list of contesting candidates has already been published for the election by the Returning Officers (ROs) and the same would remain valid during this election.
“Commission has also decided that the Chief Secretaries shall depute a senior officer from the State to ensure that the extant instructions regarding COVID-19 containment measures are complied with while making arrangements for conducting the elections," a release by the poll watch dog on Monday read.
Earlier in the day chief election commission Sunil Arora chaired meeting top officials at the EC office along with Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra. Some of the key issues the EC kept in mind while deciding on holding the elections included the union home ministry’s order of Saturday which has allowed more nationwide relaxation and inputs from respective chief electoral officers.
The only other key election which has happened during the course of the pandemic was for 9 legislative council seats in Maharashtra last month. Urgency of the six month deadline of chief minister Uddhav Thackeray becoming a legislator after taking oath at the top post meant that the EC announced the elections with due care of social distancing. However, no polling had taken place then as all candidates including Thackeray were elected unopposed.
Later in the evening, EC announced elections for 6 more Rajya Sabha seats which are falling vacant in the duration of June-July this year. This includes four from Karnataka and one each from Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. Polling and counting schedule remains the same as that for the 18 Rajya Sabha seat elections on 19 June. The last date of filing nominations for these seats is 9 June and for withdrawal of candidature is 12 June.