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EC ignores Congress objections, decides to hold 2 RS bye-polls separately

ANI | Updated: Jun 15, 2019 20:09 IST

New Delhi [India], June 15 (ANI): Ignoring Congress objections, the Election Commission on Saturday announced separate bye-elections on July 5 to two Rajya Sabha vacancies in Gujarat, created by the election of Amit Shah and Smriti Irani to Lok Sabha, while announcing bye-polls to four other Rajya Sabha seats in Bihar and Odisha.
Apart from the two seats, bye-elections will be held to a seat vacated by the election of Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to Lok Sabha and three seats in Odisha rendered vacant by the election of A Samanta and PK Deb to Lok Sabha and Odisha Assembly, respectively. The third seat in Rajya Sabha in Odisha became vacant after the resignation of Congress leader Soumya Ranjan Patnaik.
In a press note, the Commission said while the schedule for the 6 bye-elections will be the same, the vacancies for bye-elections to all Houses, including the Rajya Sabha, are considered as separate vacancies and notifications are issued and a separate poll is taken for each of the vacancies although the programme schedule may be common.
Justifying the holding of separate elections for the vacancies, the Commission said, "This is in conformity with the provisions of Section 147 to 151 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and has been the consistent practice of the Commission in such cases."
"Holding of separate elections has been upheld by the Honourable Delhi High Court in civil writ petition No 132 of 1994 (AK Walia vs Union of India and others) and writ petition No 9357 of 2006 (Satya Pal Malik vs ECI) by its decision dated 14 01 1994 and 20 01 2009 respectively."
The Commission's decision to hold separate bye-elections assumes significance because of Congress' apprehensions that it will not be able to win one of the two vacancies in Gujarat. The Congress feels that if the bye-elections are held not as separate constituencies, then it has a chance of winning one of the seats because of its numbers in the Gujarat Assembly. But if the elections are held as separate vacancies then the ruling BJP could win both the seats.
Earlier this week, Congress spokesperson and eminent lawyer Abhishek Singhvi urged the Election Commission to hold the two Rajya Sabha bye-elections under one notification and not as separate notifications. He had expressed the hope that the EC would be fair in holding the elections while making it clear that it was only the party's apprehension that the Commission would hold them as separate elections.
Under the common schedule for the six Rajya Sabha seats, notification for the election will be issued on June 18 while the last date for nominations will be June 25. Scrutiny will be done the next day and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures will be June 28. The hours of the poll on July 5 will be between 9 am and 4 pm and the votes will be counted on the same day.
While Ravi Shankar Prasad's term from Bihar was to end on April 2, 2024, the term of Amit Shah and Irani from Gujarat was to end on August 18, 2023. In Odisha, the term of Samanta was to end on April 3, 2024, Deb on July 1, 2022, and Patnaik on April 3, 2024. (ANI)