COVID-19 pandemic: Uncertainty looms over elections to Bodo council

Pramod Bodo, who is the chief of United People’s Party Liberal, said people were coming out in large numbers to take part in poll campaigns despite the coronavirus scare.

Published: 17th March 2020 07:38 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th March 2020 07:38 PM   |  A+A-

Former Assam student leader Pramod Bodo. (Photo | Youtube screengrab)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: There is an uncertainty on the April 4 elections to autonomous Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in view of the outbreak of coronavirus.

As of now, there is no official word on whether the polls will be postponed. The state’s election commission said if any decision were to be taken on the deferment of the polls, it would be taken by the authority of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

The BTC comes under the Constitution’s Sixth Schedule where the governor of the state is the ultimate authority. Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi could not be reached for comments. So far, no coronavirus positive case has been reported in Assam.

In a video conference with district authorities on Tuesday, Assam’s Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “Whatever decision pertaining to the BTC election needs to be taken will be taken by the state government”. On Monday, he had said as elections are a constitutional matter, the state cannot interfere.

In order to check the gathering of people, the state government has already ordered the shutdown of educational institutes, cinema halls, swimming polls, gymnasiums, children’s parks etc till March 29. But in the four districts of Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD), which are administered by the BTC, campaigning for the BTC elections is going on full swing with the participation of thousands of people.

Pramod Bodo, who is the chief of United People’s Party Liberal, said people were coming out in large numbers to take part in poll campaigns despite the coronavirus scare.

“Campaigning is going on in full swing. We haven’t received any instructions from the state election commission,” he said.

Minister and BTC’s ruling Bodoland People’s Front leader Pramila Rani Brahma claimed there was no panic among people in BTAD areas as none in Assam had been infected to the virus.

Meanwhile, Sarma, who is also the state’s Health Minister, advised people not to venture out if possible.

“I would say people should, if possible, offer Friday namaz or perform pujas at home instead of visiting religious sites,” he said. He appealed to people to avoid gathering as far as possible.

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