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In special exception for Mamata, EC allows bypoll in Bhowanipore; CM gears up to retain post

The announcement has ended speculations on whether the TMC chief would be able to participate in the electoral process to continue as the CM.

Published: 04th September 2021 07:56 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th September 2021 08:59 AM   |  A+A-

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (Photo | PTI)

KOLKATA: The Election Commission of India on Saturday announced bypoll in the Bhowanipore Assembly constituency, from where CM Mamata Banerjee is likely to contest, on September 30.

The announcement has ended speculations on whether the TMC chief would be able to participate in the electoral process to continue as the CM.

The poll panel, in a statement, said it would hold bypoll in Bhowanipore after a request from the Bengal chief secretary who cited administrative exigencies. The Commission’s decision is said to be a relief for Mamata who failed to win in Nandigram.

The CM needs to get elected as an MLA within six months after the formation of the government and the deadline is November 5.

Elections will also be held in two other Assembly constituencies -- Samsherganj and Jangipur -- as candidates from both the seats died of Covid before the poll day. Results of the bypolls and general elections will be announced on October 3.

BJP’s Bengal chapter did not welcome the poll panel’s decision saying when bypolls are not being held across the country, why Bhowanipore is an exception? They alleged that the decision was taken so that Mamata can continue as Bengal CM. The Congress and Left Front, however, welcomed the poll panel's decision.

In its statement, The Commission said: "The Chief Secretary, West Bengal, informed that Covid-19 situation is fully under control… He also informed that in view of administrative exigencies and public interest and to avoid a vacuum in the state, by-election for 159-Bhowanipore, Kolkata, from where Ms Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister, intends to contest elections may be conducted …. While the commission has decided not to hold by-elections in other 31 Assembly Constituencies and three Parliamentary Constituencies (across India), considering the constitutional exigency and special request from state of West Bengal, it has decided to hold bye-election in 159-Bhowanipore AC."

Expressing his unhappiness, BJP’s state president Dilip Ghosh said, "Byelection is not being held in other states citing Covid-19 pandemic. "Is there no Covid infection in Bhowanipore? The decision was taken so that Mamata Banerjee can continue as CM of Bengal," he said.

BJP’s spokesperson Shamik Ghosh said the decision made the poll panel a laughing stock. In the recent past, BJP’s Bengal chapter opposed bypolls citing Covid pandemic and th Congress alleged that the saffron camp’s objection was aimed to force Mamata to step down from the post of the CM.

"Festive season will start in the state from the second week of October which will continue for a month. The chief minister’s deadline for getting elected is November 5. Holding the bypolls after the festivals and before the deadline was not possible. Besides, for conducting the bypolls before the festive season, the date had to be announced within September 10. So the announcement has brought relief to us," said a TMC leader.

The commission, however, is yet to announce bypoll date for four other constituencies -- Dinhata, Shantipur, Khardah, and Gosaba. BJP’s sitting MPs Nisith Pramanik (Dinhata) and Jagannath Sarkar (Shantipur), who were elected in the Assembly elections, resigned as they decided to continue in the Lok Sabha. Elected candidates from Khardah and Gosaba had died of Covid-19.  



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