Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said that on 29 April, the last date for Assembly poll, the Covid-19 cases was at 35.5 per cent but today within two months “we have been able to reduce it to 1.5 per cent.”
“With the Covid-19 positivity rate down to 1.5 per cent in Bengal, the situation is conducive to conduct the by-elections as most of the poll-bound areas haven’t reported any fresh infection of late,” she said.
Miss Banerjee said today that her government has informed the Election Commission that the state was prepared to hold the pending by-elections to seven assembly constituencies as the state’s Covid-19 situation has been substantially mitigated and is largely under control.
The chief minister said that the Centre has asked the state government’s permission for holding two Rajya Sabha bypolls and “our chief secretary has already written to the Centre that we are in a position to hold the Rajya Sabha poll in the state. We recently also had the Assembly session.”
Two Rajya Sabha seats fell vacant in the state after Dinesh Trivedi quit the membership of the Upper House in February this year, having switched to the BJP from the TMC, and Manas Bhuniya’s election as an MLA in the March-April Assembly polls.
When asked about the Oppositions’ unwillingness to hold by-poll, she said, “It’s the BJP who are opposing the by-poll because they are afraid of losing.” She also said it’s the norm of EC to hold by-polls within six months and “we are not asking any favours from EC.”
Meanwhile, six Trinamul Congress MPs both from Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha met the Chief Election Commissioner in Delhi today. Trinamul Rajya Sabha MP and party’s national spokesperson Derek O’Brien, Rajya Sabha MP and party’s chief whip in Rajya Sabha Sukhendu Shekhar Ray, Leader of Trinamul Parliamentary Party in Lok Sabha, Sudip Bandopadhyay, Dum Dum MP Saugata Roy, Barasat MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Lok Sabha chief whip Kalyan Banerjee met the Election Commission regarding a delay in holding the by-polls which are due since the general Assembly election.
The party, in a memorandum to the EC, said that if Assembly elections could be held at the height of the pandemic, bypolls could be held at a time when the cases were significantly lower. The constituencies are Bhwanipore, where chief minister Mamata Banerjee will contest as she will have to win within six months to retain her chief ministership.
The six other constituencies are Khardah, where the Trinamul candidate Kajal Sinha had won but passed away due to Covid just before the results were published. The other constituencies are Jangipur and Shamshergunj in Murshidabad district where Congress and RSP candidates passed away due to Covid and elections cannot be held in April 2021.
In Gosaba, the sitting MLA Jayanta Naskar recently passed away. In Shantipur (Nadia) and Dinhata (Cooch Behar), the BJP MPs contested the Assembly poll but after winning the Assembly poll they decided to quit and remain MPs leaving the seats vacant.