The Election Commission of India has written to all the political parties seeking their opinion regarding campaigning for the bypolls in West Bengal following the Covid guidelines.
The political parties will have to send their views to the EC by August 30, which makes it clear that the poll panel is preparing for the bypolls in the state.
Though the EC didn’t say anything officially and mentioned that it is a routine exercise to get prepared for the elections in the midst of the pandemic situation, but officials in the poll panel are of the opinion that if the process for the by-elections is to be completed before November, the Commission will have to the conduct the bypolls by the end of September.
“The Durga Puja is in the second week of October and prior to that the state will enter into the season of festivity, which will end only by the end of October. The Commission will not be willing to conduct the polls in November because in winter the days are short and there will be a lot of logistic and technical problems in conducting the polls,” a senior official from the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been continuously pressing for conducting the bypolls, said in a press conference on Thursday, “We will send our opinion in time. We have been asking to hold the bypolls for a long time.”
The Chief Minister has reason to worry because she is likely to contest the bypoll from the Bhowanipur Assembly constituency after losing against Suvendu Adhikari from Nandigram in the Assembly elections held in March-April this year.
Banerjee is not yet an elected member of the Assembly and will have to win within six months if she is to continue as the Chief Minister of the state. The deadline ends in November.
The Bhowanipur constituency got vacant after the elected MLA, Sovondeb Chattopadhyay, resigned from the post to make room for the Chief Minister.
Apart from Bhowanipur, elections are due in six Assembly seats, including Jangipur and Samsherganj in Murshidabad, Khardah in North 24 Parganas, South Dinhata in Coochbehar, Santipur in Nadia and Gosaba in South 24 Parganas.
Trinamool Congress has been pressing hard for the polls and a delegation of MPs had even met Eelection Commission for this purpose.
In this situation, the poll panel’s notification seeking opinion from the political parties is significant.
Earlier, the Commission had asked the district administrations to finish the first level of checking of EVMs and VVPATs.