Debating India


Bihar administration for one-day poll

Saturday 28 May 2005

PATNA: The two-member Election Commission team, here to review poll preparedness in the state, on Saturday met senior officials of the Bihar administration who suggested a one-day election citing "geophysical and cultural" conditions. "Though it is the discretion of the EC to fix convenient dates for elections, we favour a one-day poll on November 15 with adequate deployment of para-military personnel," according to state home secretary A K Biswas.

The two-member EC team, comprising Deputy Election Commissioner Anand Kumar and legal advisor S K Mahendiratta, held a high-level meeting with top state officials, including Chief Secretary K A H Subramanian, DGP Ashish Ranjan Sinha and home secretary Biswas after ascertaining the views of the political parties on holding free, fair and peaceful polls yesterday.

Though the state administration was prepared to hold the elections "even at a brief notice, the commission should take into consideration the geophysical, environmental and cultural conditions of the state before deciding the poll dates," Biswas said.

"According to the MET office forecast, the monsoon will be delayed and is likely to hit Bihar by June 12 which may, as usual, wreak havoc causing floods in vast areas particularly in north Bihar districts for a period of more than three months," he said. The flood is likely to keep the administration preoccupied with relief operations in the affected districts till September, Biswas said adding, "providing relief and saving the lives of flood-hit people is more important during that time than conducting elections."

"Then it will be a time for festivals like Dussehra, Diwali, Chhath and Ramzan and people belonging to all religious communities will remain engaged till early November and therefore, the polling may be held on November 15," he said. "We too favour one-day poll, provided around 2,000 companies of para-military forces are made available to us. Otherwise, the elections may be conducted in two phases on November 15 and November 23 with deployment of lesser number of 1,000 to 1,200 companies," Biswas said.

Meanwhile, the two-member EC team held high-level meetings with the district magistrates, police superintendents, commissioners, IGs and DIGs of Bihar’s Tirhut and Mithila divisions and discussed in detail the problems relating to floods and reviewed the measures taken for providing photo-identity cards to voters or other valid identification documents. While the BJP, JD(U), the CPI-ML (L), Samajwadi Party and BSP have demanded a single-phase poll, preferably by the middle of July, the UPA allies — the RJD, Congress, the LJP and NCP urged the EC to hold the elections in November or even after. RJD, however, also said it was always ready for poll.

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