In a big relief to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Election Commission of India on Saturday announced bye-elections in three West Bengal assembly segments on September 30.
The Commission would issue Gazette notification on September 6, and the counting would take place on October 3, said a senior officer of the Commission. Earlier the elections were scheduled for May 16, but were postponed due to increasing cases of Covid-19 during the second wave of Corona.
The decision to hold the bye-elections was taken on the request of West Bengal Chief Secretary, who assured the Commission that Covid-19 is fully under control in the state. The Chief Secretary further said that since the Chief Minister was not a member of the assembly, bye elections should be held immediately to avoid any constitutional crisis and ‘vacuum in the top executive posts in the government’.
Under Article 164 (4) of the Constitution of India, a Minister or Chief Minister will cease to be a Minister if he is not a member of the assembly for a period of six consecutive months. Following assurance from the CS that the state is fully geared up to hold the elections, the Commission “on special request from the state of West Bengal” decided to hold bye-elections in three assembly segments in West Bengal.
The Commission, however, has decided not to hold bye-elections in other 31 Assembly constituencies and 3 Parliamentary constituencies of other states where vacancies are vacant. The Commission had called a virtual meeting with the Chief secretaries of the States of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Adviser of UT of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu.
Most of the Chief Secretaries had suggested not to hold elections before the festive seasons and also expressed constraints related to flood situations.