Health department reluctant to give nod for immediate BTC poll
GUWAHATI: The possibility of elections in the BTC (Bodoland Territorial Council) seems remote as the process has already hit a roadblock in the form of COVID-19 protocols.
Even though various political parties have been holding poll rallies in the BTAD (Bodoland Territorial Area Districts), the State Health department has informed the State Election Commission (SEC) that the COVID-19 situation is not conducive for holding elections in the BTAD now. As such, the SEC should cancel all moves to hold immediate elections in the BTAD, the Health department said.
The BPF (Bodoland People's Front), on the contrary, banks on the logic that "if elections can be held in Rajasthan, Mizoram and Bihar, what's the rationale behind not holding election in the BTAD?"
The BPF further says that in August 2020, the Election Commission of India (ECI) framed the broad guidelines for holding elections during the COVID pandemic. "The BTC polls should be held immediately under the guidelines," asserts the party.
Earlier, the BPF appealed to the SEC to hold the BTC polls immediately under COVID-19 protocols. On its part, the SEC sought views on holding the BTC polls from the State government. On behalf of the State government, its Health department has spelt out the COVID-19 situation before the SEC; and asked it to cancel the BTC polls for now. The Health department further says that in the past few days, all political parties were holding poll rallies in the BTAD with blithe disregard to the COVID-19 protocols. "In those poll rallies, people from nearby districts outside the BTAD also took part. If this trend is allowed to continue, the situation will go beyond control," the Health department cautioned.
It was on April 27, 2020 that Governor's Rule was imposed in the BTC for a period of six months. Governor's Rule is set to expire on October 27, 2020. However, according to Rules, three six-month terms of Governor's Rule can be extended in the BTC.
In its letter to the Chief Minister seeking immediate holding of BTC poll, the BPF mentioned, "A wide range of social distancing and confinement steps have been implemented throughout India to conduct election by reducing the threat to the spread of COVID-19. For instance, while the Rajasthan panchayat polls will be held this month, 500 village council and seven local council elections were held in Mizoram under COVID-19 guidelines recently. The Bihar election is also due by November this year. Against such a backdrop, what's the rationale behind not holding the BTC poll now? We appeal to you to take appropriate measures to hold the BTC election-2020 at the earliest by following the COVID-19 protocols."
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