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Rajasthan: SEC may seek more time for civic election

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With the Rajasthan government failing to get a relief from the Supreme Court, it will have to conduct the civil polls within the deadline set by the Rajasthan High Court. However, the State Election Commission (SEC) that is entrusted with the responsibility of conducting the civic polls is finding it difficult to meet the deadline of October 31.

Rajasthan govt fails to get relief from SC

The Rajasthan government had filed a special leave petition in the apex court seeking the postponement of the civil polls till March 2021. It had moved against the order of the Rajasthan High Court that directed the conduct of the polls by October 31.

The Ashok Gehlot government cited the coronavirus pandemic as a reason for the postponement of the polls, but failed to convince the apex court.

The division bench of the Supreme Court that heard the petition on Thursday directed the Rajasthan government to issue notifications regarding the election within a week. But the Supreme Court also ordered that if the state government finds it difficult to hold the elections within the stipulated date, it could go to the Rajasthan High Court and seek relief.

There are speculations that the SEC might approach the high court for an extension of the deadline. Notably, SEC officials are busy conducting the panchayat elections in the state and conducting the civic elections in three cities will be difficult for it.

The election in the six municipal corporations was due in December 2019, but it was postponed for various reasons including the coronavirus pandemic.

The state government is likely to hold the civic poll in 141 various local self-bodies. The tenure of the 141 civic bodies expired on August 31 and the new election is due for which the State Election Commission has started preparations.

The State Election Commission will hold the elections in the municipal corporations of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kota in two phases. In all, there are 40 lakh voters in the three cities and all precautions will have to be taken for social distancing.

The State Election Commission is increasing the number of booths from 3,400 to 6,000 in the three cities.

According to an urban development and housing department official, as the civic poll is scheduled in three big cities, the department sought the apex court’s permission to hold the election by March 2021.

By that time, things on the coronavirus front would be considerably reduced, he said. The state government planned to hold the elections in the six municipal corporations along with the elections in 141 local bodies.

Congress afraid of losing, says BJP

But the State Election Commission, as well as all the Opposition parties, opposed it. The Opposition blamed the Ashok Gehlot government for deferring the elections because the Congress was fearing poor show by it in the elections.

The BJP which thrives on the urban votes was in power in the majority of the civic bodies including the ones at Jaipur, Kota and Jodhpur. But as the time given by the court orders bind the election department to complete the election process by October 31, the State Election Commission may approach the court to seek more time.

The commission has genuine reasons as the panchayat elections are on in the state. Thus, its officials are busy in holding the panchayat elections and the manpower would be needed to conduct elections in the three cities.

 

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