Thiruvananthapuram: Close on the heels of Kerala government writing to Election Commission of India to cancel the forthcoming by-elections to Chavara and Kuttanad Assembly constituencies, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has convened an all party meeting on Friday to arrive at a consensus on the issue.
The EC has announced that the polls to Kuttanad and Chavara Assembly constituencies would be held along with Bihar elections in November. In a letter written to EC, Kerala chief secretary Vishwas Mehta has listed out the reasons for reconsidering the decision to hold by the by polls in the two constituencies.
The chief secretary has pointed out that going by the voting percentage in Kuttanad assembly segment in the last Lok Sabha polls, at least 1.17 lakh voters are likely to turn up for casting their votes in 172 polling stations. Similarly, 1.32 lakh voters are expected to exercise their franchise in 163 polling stations in Chavara.
With the state witnessing a huge spike in Covid-19 cases over the last couple of weeks, social distancing will be at risk in these polling stations. The state has also been experiencing heavy to very heavy rainfall during the south west monsoon. This is a cause of concern especially in Kuttanad constituency where many areas are below sea level and prone to floods and water logging. Hence arranging logistics for polling would be a major problem.
The state government has also apprised the EC of the huge pressure under which the officials of police, revenue, local bodies and various government departments are working as Covid warriors. It is because of their relentless work that the state could contain the virus in the first two phases.
On the political front, the opposition Congress led UDF is not averse to cancelling the Assembly bypolls. The opposition says that even if the two MLAs are elected, they would get just four months term as the next Assembly elections are due in April 2021.
Apart from Covid-19 threat, the elections will also put a huge financial burden on the government especially at a time when the state’s economy is in dire straits.
The UDF, however, wants the local bodies poll also postponed by a few weeks or at least a month. The elections to the 1000 plus local bodies including corporations, municipalities, panchayats are scheduled to be held in October this year.
The BJP on the other hand is for cancelling Assembly bypolls. However, the party wants the local bodies poll as scheduled. All these issues will be discussed in detail at the all party meeting convened by the chief minister on Friday.
The government will try to arrive at a consensus before going to the EC again....