EC decision to conduct Assembly by-polls in Kerala meet with strong resistance

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A large number of peoeple feel that spending more than Rs.14 crores for by-elections in two assembly constituencies will be a wastage of public moneey as the elected MLAs will have only five months in office

Public opinion is mounting in Kerala against the Election Commission’s decision to conduct by-election to the Chavara and Kuttanad Assembly constituencies in November this year.

The objection to the EC’s decision is not related to the coronavirus pandemic which has crippled life across the country but the timing of the election. The by-election in November would provide only five months to the MLAs in office as the election for the new Assembly is due in April 2021.

A large number of people have come out opposing the election saying that it will not serve any purpose for the people in the constituency.

“The election will necessitate an expenditure of Rs.7 crore in constituency. The people of Kuttanad are facing acute shortage of potable water. If the amount is spent on a drinking water project, it will be more beneficial to the people,” says Joseph Manamayil, a voter at Edathua.

Curiously, the ruling as well as the opposition parties are also less enthusiastic about the election. The Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front government said it was ready to approach the EC to cancel the election if other parties back it.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party has already extended its support to the move, the Congress-led opposition United Democratic Front said it will support if the government was ready to consider their demand for postponement of the local body elections due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has convened an all-party meeting on Friday, September 11, to evolve a consensus on the issue. However, the ruling CPI (M) is not in favour postponing the local body election as the elected local bodies have been discharging a number of tasks related to the fight against the coronavirus spread.

The government may refer the UDF demand to the all-party meeting convened by the State Election Commission on September 18. The commission is going ahead with elections though several parties have expressed reservations over conducting polls in the time of Covid-19.

The polls to grama, block and district panchayats, municipal councils and corporation councils need to be completed before November 11 so that smooth transition of power takes place when the tenure of incumbent committees end. If the process is not completed by then, local bodies would be governed by administrators till the next elections are held.

The ruling LDF doesn’t want such a scenario and supports the suggestion of holding polls adhering to strict Covid-19 protocol. It is learnt that draft protocols for campaigning and election process would also be discussed at the meeting. The commission is gearing up to shift maximum operations online and has even mooted virtual campaign for the polls.

Final decision on these suggestions will be taken after hearing the opinions of all political parties.The UDF high power committee, which discussed the issue on Tuesday, reiterated its plea for postponing the local body election citing worsening Covid-19 situation.

Image Credit: Hindustan Times

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