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Election Commission cancels Rajya Sabha elections for 10 seats

LiveMint logoLiveMint 22-05-2017 Anuja

New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) on Monday cancelled its notification to hold elections for 10 Rajya Sabha seats slated for 8 June in view of the upcoming presidential elections in July and its EVM challenge to political parties to prove that they can tamper electronic voting machines.

EC had announced polling for six Rajya Sabha (RS) seats from West Bengal, three from Gujarat and one from Goa on account of the retirement of 10 sitting lawmakers in a 16 May notification. The polling and counting of votes was scheduled for 8 June.

The commission cancelled the notification because it felt that the upcoming presidential elections could coincide with the schedule of the Rajya Sabha elections. Logistically, the secretaries of legislative assemblies are notified as Returning Officers for Rajya Sabha elections and they are also the assistant returning officers for presidential elections.

The term of President Pranab Mukherjee ends on 24 July.

The Commission also felt that holding of Rajya Sabha elections for these seats could “divert attention” of some of the political parties who would be interested in taking part in the EVM challenge scheduled to begin from 3 June.

“The Commission will announce programme for holding Biennial Election to Council of states from Goa, Gujarat and West Bengal in due course,” the EC said in a press release on Monday.

The terms of several prominent faces in the Rajya Sabha, including Union minister Smriti Irani, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien, are set to end in July and August.

Out of the 10 retiring members, four are from Trinamool Congress, three from Congress, two from the BJP and one from the CPM.

While the term of Shantaram Naik (Cong, Goa) is coming to an end on 28 July, the retirement of Ahmed Patel (Congress), Dilipbhai Pandya (BJP) and Irani (BJP)—all from Gujarat—is due on 18 August.

The tenure of members from West Bengal—O’Brien (TMC), Debabrata Bandhopadhyay (TMC), Pradip Bhattacharya (Cong), Yechury (CPM), Sukhenduhakhar Roy (TMC) and Dola Sen (TMC)—are also ending on 18 August.

The retiring members would have participated in the presidential election as their terms would have ended after the election is held sometime around 20 July.

PTI contributed to this story.

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