Clarifying its decision to defer by-polls to Lok Sabha and state assemblies, the Election Commission of India (ECI), on Thursday, issued a statement that by-elections to only eight constituencies have been deferred to 7 September 2020. Moreover, ECI said that 56 state assembly seats and one parliamentary constituency were up for by-elections in the coming months. The decision on the dates for holding these by-polls will be decided on Friday.
Earlier in the day, the EC announced that in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and floods in certain areas, by-polls to eight assembly seats had been deferred to 7 September 2020. These seats belong to Assam, Kerala, Nagaland, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand. Apart from these seats, 24 seats in Madhya Pradesh are up for by-elections due to Scindia's rebellion. As per Section 151-A of the Representation of the People's Act, 1951, ECI will conduct by-polls to 22 seats by September 10.
Last week, the Election Commission decided not to extend postal ballot facility to citizens above 65 years in the upcoming Bihar state polls and other pending by-elections. However, EC will allow postal ballots for voters above 80 yrs, disabled, those engaged in essential services and COVID positive patients in home or institutional quarantine, as per notification issued by EC. While Bihar is up for elections in October-November, by-elections to 24 seats in Madhya Pradesh will be held in September.
2 MLAs including 6 cabinet ministers - loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia - quit the party, reducing the Congress to a minority government with 92 MLAs in Madhya Pradesh. After their exit, ormer Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia formally submitted his resignation to Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi and then joined the BJP. With 14 of the 22 rebels inducted in Shivraj Singh Chouhan's cabinet, all 22 MPs are up for re-elections, as Scindia himself has been elected to the Rajya Sabha. Three more MLAs have quit since then, making 27 seats vacant in the Assembly.
Meanwhile in Rajasthan, Deputy CM Sachin Pilot launched a rebellion when Rajasthan's Special Operations Group (SOG) issued notice to Pilot in connection with the alleged involvement of BJP leaders for toppling the state government - with BJP members hinting that Pilot was reportedly in touch with the BJP camp to become the CM. In response, Pilot and 18 MLAs arrived in Delhi, reducing the Congress' numbers from 107 to 88. While Congress has issued disqualification notice to all 19 MLAs, Pilot has challenged this notice in the Rajasthan High Court. In case of disqualification, by-polls will be held for these 19 seats too.