A Trinamool Congress delegation will meet Election Commission (EC) officials on July 15 in Delhi with a plea to hold the bypolls at the earliest for the six vacant assembly seats in West Bengal.
Recently, Dinhata and Santipur assembly seats fell vacant after BJP leaders Nisith Pramanik and Jagannath Sarkar resigned as MLAs to retain their Parliament membership. Similarly, elections could not be held in Samserganj and Jangipur seats in Murshidabad due to the death of candidates during the recent held Assembly polls in the state. The Khardah seat also felt vacant in North 24-Parganas district after TMC candidate Kajal Sinha passed away due to Covid-19 and was declared the winner.
Trinamool MP Saugata Roy said, “We all know how Bengal suffered (hinting at Covid-19) when EC organised eight phase polling in the state. We expect that this time EC will act sensibly and they will conduct the bypolls at the earliest.”
“We will meet the EC officials and request them to hold the bypolls soon. We will request them for a week for campaigning. Our chief minister Mamata Banerjee has already said she will focus on conducting the municipal polls in the state after the bypolls get over,” Roy said.
On May 21, TMC MLA from Bhawanipur constituency, Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, resigned from the post so that Banerjee could contest the seat she represented twice since 2011.
According to the Indian Constitution, Banerjee, who lost her Nandigram seat in this Assembly Polls, can run the state as a chief minister but she will have to get elected in the next six months to retain her post. In such a case, bypolls in six vacant assembly seats must be conducted by November 5.
BJP spokesperson, Shamik Bhattacharya, said, “No one is against the bypoll but the question is why TMC is not holding the municipality elections for the last couple of years. They want a bypoll on time and we want immediate announcement of municipal polling in West Bengal. Situation is grim in West Bengal because of deteriorating law and order. Post-poll violence is at its peak and police are doing nothing.”
TMC is very keen in contesting the bypolls (in six vacant seats) at the earliest because they suspect that the EC may defer the poll citing third wave of COVID-19.
The Article 164(4) of our Constitution states that a minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the state shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a minister. This means, Banerjee can remain the CM but as per the Constitution she has to be elected within six months to continue her post.
If she is not elected at the end of six months (due to poll deferment by the EC), then she has the backdoor entry option through Vidhan Parishad or Legislative Council.
Recently, the West Bengal Assembly passed a resolution for the Legislative Council to accommodate senior and experienced leaders through backdoor entry.
The Legislative Council required Parliament’s nod under Article 169 of the Indian Constitution if the State Legislative Assembly passes a resolution for Vidhan Parishad by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members.
However, in case of West Bengal, the ruling party will not face any hurdle as they are way ahead of the two-thirds majority (196 seats) after securing 213 seats in the new assembly.