LJP asks EC to not hold Bihar elections in Oct-Nov, says polls in pandemic will endanger lives

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New Delhi, Jul 31 (PTI) BJP ally Lok Janshakti Party wrote to the Election Commission on Friday against holding the Bihar assembly polls in October-November, when they are due, saying it will otherwise amount to deliberately 'pushing people towards death'.

The party has said resources should now be focussed on curbing the COVID-19 crisis and tackling floods in the state and not holding the polls.

The LJP has said that the coronavirus pandemic has already acquired dangerous proportions and experts believe that it is likely to be more severe by October-November, as it argued that the priority now should be saving people's lives and not holding the elections.

The LJP's stand on the elections is opposite to that of the JD(U), which also is a BJP ally, as the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led party has spoken in favour of holding them on time and has been holding organisational meetings in preparation.

The BJP has maintained that any decision on the poll schedule is the EC's prerogative, while the main opposition RJD has in past called for postponing the elections, citing the coronavirus threat.

The EC had sought views of all parties on the elections.

The LJP said endangering lives of a big population would be absolutely 'improper' for holding the elections and noted that over 35,000 people in the country, including 280 in Bihar, have died of COVID-19 so far.

'Holding the polls in such circumstances will amount to deliberately pushing people towards death,' it told the EC.

A big part of Bihar is also severely affected by floods, it said, adding that conducting the elections while adhering to standard healthcare guidelines, as stipulated the WHO and the Indian Council of Medical Research, will be extremely difficult.

Bihar has over eight crore voters and it will be almost impossible for such a big population to participate in campaign and the polls while maintaining social distancing, it said.

The regional party noted that election campaign is a long process involving months of canvassing by candidates, and said it will be dangerous now to undertake intensive mass contact exercise, as is the case in polls.

Though there are talks about 'virtual campaign' but this will end up excluding the poor sections of society as most of them don't have smart phones and also lack technical knowhow, the LJP letter written by its secretary general Abdul Khaliq said.

The elections should be held when conditions improve, he added.

'The LJP believes that it is necessary to not hold the elections now to save a big part of Bihar's population from any danger, to spare the state hit by COVID-19 and floods from any extra financial burden and to keep democracy successful,' he said. PTI KR ZMN