Situation not conducive for bypoll: CEO

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Teeka Ram Meena has informed the Election Commission of India (ECI) that it will be unwise to hold byelections to the Chavara and Kuttanad Assembly seats given the COVID-19 situation in the State.

The commission is expected to arrive at a decision on the issue soon, Mr. Meena said on Sunday. Mr. Meena had conveyed his stand at a video-conference held on Saturday.

Given the worsened COVID-19 scenario and the fact that the Assembly elections are anyway due next year, it could be impractical to go for byelection to the two seats now, according to Mr. Meena. “We have reiterated our position that the COVID-19 scenario is still serious in Kerala and that the situation is not yet normal,” he said.

Second, the government machinery, already stretched to the limits battling the pandemic, will encounter practical difficulties in holding the elections in accordance with the stringent COVID-19 guidelines. A third factor that could hamper smooth elections is the possibility of a strengthened southwest monsoon.

More than 3,700 people in the State have tested positive for COVID-19 since July 13 alone. With the situation in coastal Thiruvananthapuram worsening, the government has also declared a 10-day lockdown in the coastal wards.

The bypoll to the Kuttanad seat was necessitated by the death of NCP MLA and former Minister Thomas Chandy in December 2019. Chavara MLA N. Vijayan Pillai had passed away in March this year, necessitating a byelection in Chavara.

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