Election Commission to hold MLC polls in Maharashtra despite corona

In what comes as a big relief for Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the Election Commission on Friday gave a go ahead to conduct the Legislative Council elections in the state, declaring that the polls will be held on May 21. The state was staring at a constitutional crisis as Mayend was the deadline for Thackeray to become a legislator in order to continue as chief minister. He had taken oath as Maharashtra CM on 28 November 2019. The Legislative Council elections, earlier scheduled to be held on March 26, were postponed indefinitely by the EC in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. This hour-long meeting was attended by the Chief Election Commissioner, who joined the meeting from the US via video-conferencing. The date of issue of notification of the election is May 4 and the last date for submitting nominations is May 11. The scrutiny of nominations will be done on May 12, and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures is May 14. Polling will be held on May 21 between 9 am and 4 pm.

The counting of votes will be carried out the same day at 5pm. Earlier, Maharashtra Governor B.S. Koshiyari had urged the EC to conduct the Legislative Council polls soon, citing the constitutional requirement for Thackeray to become a member of the legislature by May 27. Within 24 hours of receiving the Governor’s letter, the EC conducted a meeting to discuss similar precedents where a PM or a CM wasn’t a member of any legislature, and obtained membership within six months of assuming charge. The EC also decided that the Union Home Secretary, who is the Chairperson of the National Executive Committee in ex-officio capacity under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, should depute an officer of suitable seniority to ensure that the preventive measures are put in place for the smooth conduct of the electoral process. It also asked the Maharashtra government also to appoint an officer to oversee the polls as per the procedure. The Maharashtra State Election Commission too has been asked to keep an eye on smooth and proper conduction of polls.

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