The State Election Commission is yet to finalize the dates for holding of the election to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), which was postponed due to outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Commission has made it clear that the nominations already filed by the candidates for the polls would be valid.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, State Election Commissioner Alok Kumar said that the Commission is in constant touch with the State Government but the dates for holding of the polls are yet to be finalized. It may be mentioned here that the BTC was put under the Governor’s Rule after the expiry of the term of the previous Council.
The State Election Commissioner pointed out that the Commission is not in a position to announce the new dates for holding of the polls immediately though there have been some speculations in a section of the media in recent times. He said that it would all depend on the guidelines issued by the State Government under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act to deal with COVID-19. He said that only after the guidelines are relaxed, the Commission would be able to announce the new dates.
Kumar pointed out that the Election Commission of India recently announced a series of guidelines for holding of polls following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and these guidelines have been adopted by the State Election Commission. “In fact, the State Election Commission follows all the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India on holding of polls.
There are speculations about holding of BTC polls because of talks about holding of Bihar Assembly elections. But the Commission is yet to take the final decision in this regard,” he added.
On nomination of candidates, Kumar said that the nominations already filed would be valid and no one would be able to withdraw candidature as the process of filing of nominations and the withdrawal of candidature were already over when the polls had to be postponed. However, in Salakati constituency, fresh nominations would be allowed because of death of a candidate. But in that constituency also, those who have already filed nominations, would not be allowed to withdraw.
It may be mentioned here that the BTC polls were scheduled to be held on April 4. The State Election Commission issued notification for the polls on March 11 and March 18 was the last date for filing of nomination papers. However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Commission issued another notification on March 20 postponing the polls for an indefinite period.