Gandhinagar, April 17 : Amid the huge surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in Gujarat, bypoll to the Morva-Hadaf Assembly constituency (ST) will be held on Saturday.
Considering the prevailing situation of rising Covid cases in the state in April, the opposition Congress had requested the Election Commission of India (ECI) to defer the polls.
"We had asked the ECI to postpone the elections, just like the State Election Commission (SEC) had postponed the local body polls in Gandhinagar, but the request was not considered," said Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi.
The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Gujarat, S Murali Krishna, has made arrangements so that all Covid protocols are strictly followed.
The ECI had conducted bypolls to eight Assembly seats in November last year amid the Covid-19 scare, when the BJP had swept the polls. However, after the elections, there was a huge surge in the number of positive cases in the state.
Morva-Hadaf, a tribal reserved seat, was left vacant after the winner of the 2017 Assembly polls, Independent candidate Bhupendra Khant, was disqualified by the Gujarat state Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi after the Tribal Development Commissioner had invalidated Khant's caste certificate, terming it as forged.
Khant had contested as an Independent after his party Congress had decided to leave the seat for its ally Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), which had fielded Chottu Vasava from Morva-Hadaf.
This time, the ruling BJP has fielded Nimishaben Manharsinh Suthar from Morva-Hadaf. She had won from the same seat on a BJP ticket in the 2013 bypolls.
The Congress has fielded Suresh Chhaganbhai Katara, who is a sarpanch in the Morva-Hadaf Tehsil. The third contestant is an Independent female candidate -- Sushilaben Parsottambhai Maida.
The EC had issued the gazette notification for the bypolls on March 23. The last date filing nomination was March 30 while the last date of withdrawal was April 3. The counting votes will take place on May 2.
The polling will begin at 7 am on Saturday and go on till 6 pm. There are a total of 2,19,185 voters in the constituency, comprising 1,11,286 males and 1,07,899 females. Polling will be held at 329 booths in 169 polling centres.
According to the ECI guidelines, all Covid-19 protocols must be followed during polling. Looking at the prevailing situation, only a maximum of 1,000 voters will be allowed at a polling station.
The ECI has appointed 124 micro observers for the bypolls besides appointing a general observer and one expenditure observer.
The ECI has prohibited exit polls during the polling time under the People's Representation Act, 1951 Clause 126 (a )(1).
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