Updated: January 23, 2021 9:30:19 pm
The Gujarat State Election Commission announced Saturday local body polls will be held in two phases. The polls to the six municipal corporations in Ahmedabad will be held on February 21, while the elections to 81 municipalities, 31 district panchayats and 231 taluka panchayats will be conducted on February 28, State Election Commissioner Sanjay Prasad said.
The results for the polls to the six municipal corporations, however, will be declared on February 23, five days ahead of the elections to the municipalities, district panchayats and taluka panchayats, a move that may influence the electorate in the second phase. The results for the second phase will be declared on March 2.
“Traditionally, we have been declaring the results separately. In 2010, the municipal corporation elections were held on October 10 and the counting took place on October 12, while the polls for municipalities and taluka panchayats were held on October 21 and the counting was held on October 23. In 2005, the municipal corporation elections were held on October 13 and the counting took place on October 15, while the polls to the district and taluka panchayat polls were conducted on October 25 and the counting took place on October 27. The main problem in this is that due to Covid-19 situation, we cannot hold the counting together. We have to count in five different halls,” Prasad said.
The State Election Commissioner also cited shortage of additional returning officers for supervising the counting.
“The police force also has additional responsibilities. Earlier, they used to look only after law and order. Now they will also have to handle the code of conduct and guidelines related to Covid-19. So, we have thought about it and decided as per availability of officials,” he added.
When pointed out that the Commission could have declared the results of municipal corporations after the polls for municipalities, district and taluka panchayats were held, Prasad said, “We are acting as per the tradition.”
The terms of these seats had ended last year, but the elections were postponed due to Covid-19 pandemic. With the announcement of dates, the model code of conduct (MCC) becomes effective in these constituencies.
A total of 4.06 crore voters are expected to cast their votes in the local body polls. Of the total number of eligible voters, 1.12 crore will vote in the municipal corporation elections, while a majority of the voters — more than 2.97 crore — will cast their ballot in the second phase to elect 9,049 representatives for the local bodies, including 576 representatives for the six municipal corporations, 2,720 for municipalities, 970 representatives for district panchayats and 4,773 for taluka panchayats.
A total of 91,716 EVMs, which are currently being examined by the engineers of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), will be used for the polls.
“We will not be using VVPATs because the standing committee of all the state election commissioners had made a technical committee two years ago and decided that nobody can tamper with the EVMs and so there is no need to use VVPATs. No state election commission uses VVPATs. Polls have happened in Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Goa and Arunachal Pradesh and at no place VVPATs were used,” Prasad said.
Of the total 47,694 polling booths, 6,147 have been earmarked “very sensitive” and an additional 11,694 considered “sensitive”. Over 2.84 lakh polling staff and 1.05 lakh police personnel will be deployed for the polls.
A notice for conducting delimitation was conducted in September 2020 and the voters list was published in October 9 for conducting local body polls.
“After seeing the Covid-19 situation, we decided to postpone the polls for three months (in 2020),” Prasad said. He added that the polls are being conducted as per the latest voters list published on January 5, 2021. The SoPs for the local body polls will be published in next couple of days, the official added.
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