Debating India


"Bihar polls not feasible before November"

Saturday 28 May 2005, by BALCHAND*K.

Most parties prefer elections before onset of monsoon

PATNA: While most political parties are seeking early polls, State Government officials have told an Election Commission team reviewing Bihar’s preparedness for elections that polls are not possible till the first week of November.

The NDA constituents- the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (United) - the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Samajwadi Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) demanded the holding of a one-day poll before monsoon sets in - preferably by mid-July.

On the other hand, the Rashtriya Janata Dal set no specific time frame, saying it was always ready for the poll. The RJD however demanded that the EC adopt a uniform method for counting of votes. It said that in no other State was counting withheld in booths which recorded 90 per cent turnout.

The Lok Jan Shakti Party wanted the poll held in January or February after floods receded and festivals were over. It said that the election should be spread over two or three phases for it to be free and fair.

The CPI (M) too favoured a one-day poll with separate booths for the downtrodden. Almost all the parties demanded deployment of paramilitary forces.

The NDA wanted the State police and State Government officials kept off poll-duty. They insisted that Central Government officials be deputed for the polls.

The Government officials led by Chief Secretary K.A.H.Subramanian told the two-member team comprising Deputy Election Commissioner Anand Kumar and legal adviser S. K. Mehendiratta that elections were not feasible before the first week of November as floods were likely and in view of the festival season. The officials preferred the first or second week of November. They demanded deployment of paramilitary forces for the elections.

Meanwhile, the EC on Friday appointed Additional Finance Commissioner N. K. Sinha the Chief Electoral Officer of the State, replacing K. C. Saha.

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