Guwahati, Jul 27 (PTI) The Assam State Election Commission (ASEC) has asked deputy commissioners of four districts under the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) to carry out a survey for setting up auxiliary polling stations to maintain social distancing during BTC polls.
The elections, earlier scheduled to be held on April 4 was kept in abeyance due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the council is currently administered under the supervision of Governor Jagadish Mukhi.
A letter sent by the ASEC secretary to the deputy commissioners of Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri last week said that the pandemic may not be over in the near future and so to comply with the constitutional mandate of electing the new BTC, it would 'like to explore measures to conduct the election with certain COVID-19 protocols'.
Auxiliary or additional polling stations may have to be set up, where necessary, to comply with COVID-19 related protocol like social distancing, avoiding unnecessary gathering of people and to timely complete the polling process, the letter said.
'You are, therefore, requested to carry out survey for setting up auxiliary/additional polling stations, where required and submit your assessment and report to the Commission by August 6', the letter said.
The auxiliary polling stations should preferably be housed in the same campus of the main polling stations as far as possible, the letter added.
The ASEC had announced on March 20, by when the filing of nominations and scrutiny had been already completed, that elections would be deferred after the withdrawal of candidates and preparation of the final list.
Altogether 72 candidates are in the fray for the 40- member BTC whose term ended on April 27.
The elections to the BTC was being held after a fresh Bodo Accord was signed in New Delhi on January 27 by the leaders of all four factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), the then chief of the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) Pramod Boro, BTC chief Hagrama Mohilary and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
The BTC has control over 30 subjects like education, forests, horticulture but no jurisdiction on the police, revenue and general administration departments, which are controlled by the Assam government.
The BTC was formed under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution. PTI DG MM MM