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EC agrees to hold Maharashtra legislative council elections on May 21

EC agrees to hold Maharashtra legislative council elections on May 21

New Delhi: The elections to the nine Legislative Council seats in Maharashtra, which fell vacant on April 24, will be held on May 21, the Election Commission announced on Friday. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray needs to win from one of those seats to become a member of the legislature before a six-month deadline, expiring on May 27.

The poll panel's decision came a day after Governor B S Koshyari had urged it to hold the elections "at the earliest". Shiv Sena leaders had earlier approached Koshyari in this regard.

Sources in the Election Commission had earlier said that polls can be conducted amidst the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown, provided precautions as advised by the Health Ministry are taken, and MLAs follow social distancing while casting their vote. "The Commission can appoint an officer of the Health Department to assist the state CEO (Chief Electoral Officer)," an EC officer had said on the condition of anonymity.

As per a statement by the Raj Bhavan, "In his letter (to the EC), the Governor has stated that the Central Government has announced many relaxation measures regarding the enforcement of lockdown… As such the elections to the council seats can be held with certain guidelines, he has said."

Sources in the Sena said the party as well as allies NCP and Congress had also submitted separate letters to the EC requesting for polls to the nine seats, and handed over copies of the same to the Governor. Their letters stated that on account of "peculiar extraordinary unforeseen facts and circumstances", Thackeray had not been able to get himself elected to the Legislative Council.

In his phone conversation with Modi on Tuesday evening, Thackeray had expressed unhappiness over the "politics being played" over his nomination to the Upper House of the Legislature.

As per Article 164 (4) of the Constitution, a minister who is not a member of a Legislature needs to get elected to the Assembly or the Council within six months of being appointed. Uddhav was sworn in on November 28, 2019. His failure to enter the Legislature by May 27 would mean the state Cabinet would have also had to resign.

The government had hoped to get Thackeray nominated through the Governor's quota, following the deferment of polls to the nine seats by the EC due to the coronavirus outbreak and nationwide lockdown.

(Inputs from theindianexpress.com)

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