April 15, 2021 10:29:21 am
Amid a deteriorating Covid-19 situation across Gujarat, the reserved Morva Hadaf Assembly seat is set for a by-election on April 17 with three candidates in the fray. While the State Election Commission in Gujarat, a body that conducts local body polls, had cancelled the April 18 elections to the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation due to a surge in cases, the Election Commission of India (ECI), which is conducting the bypolls, had stressed the Assembly constituency has a lower rate of infections.
S MuraliKrishna, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Gujarat, said, “As of now, we are going ahead with the preparations for the Morva Hadaf Assembly bypolls. Very few cases are being reported in that area. We are following all the Covid-19 protocols given by the commission and the government. We have taken all precautions. We had conducted eight by-elections with the same precautions.”
The bypolls for eight Assembly seats were held on November 3, 2020. On the same day, 19 cases were reported in the Panchmahal district. On April 1 this year, the number of new cases reported daily in the district rose to 25, and on April 14, it had almost tripled to 73 new cases.
Congress leaders said two days ago they had sent a letter to the ECI urging the bypolls to Morva Hadaf assembly be deferred. “We have made representations to the Chief Election Commissioner and asked him to postpone the bypolls. If elections to Gandhinagar civic corporation can be cancelled due to Covid-19, the same problem exists in Morva Hadaf, too. In fact, if anyone in Gandhinagar gets infected, they have access to health facilities in Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad. But in tribal areas, like Morva Hadaf, the health infrastructure is poor, and people do not have access to good hospitals,” Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said.
So far, both the Congress and the BJP have refrained from organising any large public meetings in the constituency due to the existing Covid-19 protocols, which ban large gatherings. “We are not holding any public gathering. We are holding meetings in groups consisting of 10-15 persons. Multiple such meetings are held in one village before we move on to the next,” Doshi added.
According to BJP sources, a decision had already been made not to hold public meetings for the bypolls. “It is largely a door-to-door campaign and meetings are held in small groups,” a party official said.
The BJP has submitted a list of 30 star campaigners, including Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and state BJP president CR Paatil. The Congress submitted a list of 24 star campaigners, which includes GPCC president Amit Chavda, Paresh Dhanani and Hardik Patel.
Asked why the polls for Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation polls were cancelled while the Morva Hadaf bypolls was not, Paatil had recently said: “Municipal corporation areas are congested and the number of (Covid) cases are more and so all parties requested for postponement.”
For the Morva Hadaf bypolls, the BJP has nominated Nimishaben Suthar and the Congress has fielded Sureshbhai Katara. The third contestant is an independent.
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