|BTC poll date likely after Nov 15|
R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Nov 2 - The State Election Commission is gearing up to complete the process of elections to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) by December and the date for the poll is likely to be announced after November 15.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, State Election Commissioner Alok Kumar said that the Government has requested the Commission to conduct the polls in December and “we are getting ready accordingly.” It may be mentioned here that the election to the BTC was scheduled to be held on April 4 but it had to be postponed due to outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and the Council was put under the Governor’s Rule.
Kumar pointed out that at least two weeks time would have to be given to the political parties and candidates for campaigning. However, as per the guidelines issued by the State Government under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, public gatherings by maintaining social gatherings would be allowed only after November 15. He said that the Commission would announce the date for the election only after November 15.
At the same time, he said that if the poll process is not completed by December, a new complication would arise as the electoral roll would have to be revised.
Kumar said that the State Election Commission has adopted the guidelines issued by the Election Commission for holding of polls in Bihar and the same protocols would be followed for holding of elections to the BTC. He revealed that the list of candidates is ready as the process of filing and scrutiny of nominations were completed before the elections had to be postponed.
The State Election Commissioner said that guidelines have already been sent to the concerned Deputy Commissioners and as the elections would have to be held by maintaining the COVID-19 protocols, the number of polling stations may have to be increased in certain areas. However, he said that unlike the Bihar elections, the number of voters in each booth in the BTC polls is not very high and in some cases, only setting up of a few auxiliary polling stations would serve the purpose.
Kumar said that electronic voting machines would not be used for the BTC polls and it would be conducted by using paper ballots. He revealed that the Election Commission has not provided the EVMs and procuring machines on its own would result in incurring heavy expenditure. He also said that the number of counting centres would have to be increased as COVID protocols would have to be maintained and not more than seven counting tables can be used in each centre.