Fearing the spread of COVID-19 through electronic voting machines (EVMs), the Madhya Pradesh Congress on Tuesday demanded that the upcoming bypolls for 24 state Assembly seats be conducted using ballot papers.
The bypolls for 24 Assembly seats was necessitated following the resignations of 22 Congress MLAs and death of two other legislators. However, the dates for the same are yet to be announced.
State Congress on Tuesday submitted a memorandum to the Madhya Pradesh’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), said state Congress leader JP Dhanopia, who is in-charge of partys poll-related affairs.
“On an average, 1,000 to 1,200 citizens cast their votes in every booth. So, voters will have to repeatedly press buttons on EVMs. With the rise in COVID-19 cases in the state, the possible spread of the infection through EVMs cannot be ruled out,” he said.
The Congress leader further said the state party unit has demanded the use of ballot papers for the by-elections instead.
Moreover, Mr Dhanopia said the state Congress has also submitted another memorandum to the EC seeking information about the elections to two of the 24 seats Jaura and Agar Malwa where the sitting legislators have died.
Jaura Assembly seat has been lying vacant since December 21, 2019, while Agar Malwa seat fell vacant on January 31, he said.
As per provisions of the People’s Representation Act 1951, elections to vacant seats should be conducted within six months, which is ending in July for these two seats, he said.
“As the six-month deadline will end in July, we sought official information from the EC about the status of polls scheduled for these two seats,” he said.
Apart from the deaths of two sitting legislators, 22 Congress MLAs had resigned resulting in the fall of the Kamal Nath government in March this year.
These MLAs later joined the BJP along with former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.
With the effective strength of the Assembly at 206, the BJP currently has a majority with 107 MLAs.
The BJP will have to win at least nine of these 24 seats to achieve a simple majority in the house.
The Congress’ current strength is 92, while there are four Independent MLAs and one from the SP.