Deferred due to coronavirus, elections to 18 RS seats to be held on June 19: EC

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The polls to 18 Rajya Sabha seats, deferred due to the coronavirus pandemic, will now be held on June 19, the Election Commission announced on Monday.

Out of these 18 seats, four each are from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, three each from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, two from Jharkhand, and one each from Manipur and Meghalaya.

The counting of votes will be held on the evening of June 19 itself, the Commission said in a statement.

Counting for Rajya Sabha and legislative council elections is usually held on the day of polling itself.

While deferring the elections early March, the poll panel had made it clear that processes completed by then, including nominations filed by candidates, will remain valid.

“The only steps remaining were the actual poll and the counting. That would be completed now,” an official explained.

The Commission had deferred the March 26 Rajya Sabha elections citing the threat of coronavirus, saying a decision on conducting them will be taken after reviewing the situation.

While 17 members from six states retired on April 9, one from Meghalaya retired on April 12.

Originally the election were to take place on March 26 on 55 Upper House seats, but 37 candidates have already been elected without a contest.

The statement said the Commission has now reviewed the matter in detail after considering all factors, including the latest guidelines issued by the Union Home Secretary.

The Commission also decided that state chief secretaries will depute a senior officer from the state to ensure that the instructions regarding COVID-19 containment measures are complied with while making arrangements for conducting the elections.

The EC also appointed chief electoral officer of the concerned state as observer for these polls.

Earlier in the day, the “full commission” — the chief election commissioner and two election commissioners — met at Nirvachan Sadan here for the first time in nearly three months.

The poll panel had been holding virtual meets as Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, who was visiting the United States on leave in the first half of March, got stranded there due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Arora returned to India recently and underwent the mandatory quarantine before joining office on Monday.

A key decision taken in one such virtual meeting was to allow the legislative council election in Maharashtra to pave the way for Uddhav Thackeray becoming a member of the state legislature within the stipulated six months of becoming chief minister.

The polls were deferred due to the coronavirus outbreak. PTI

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