Bihar election 2020: RJD moots return of ballot paper, limited voters per booth if polls held on time

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Updated: Aug 07, 2020 9:54 AM

Bihar is slated to go to polls in October-November this year. The term of the Bihar Legislative Assembly ends on November 29.

bihar assembly election 2020The RJD has asked the ECI to defer Assembly elections in Bihar in view of coronavirus pandemic.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has reiterated its demand to defer the elections scheduled in Bihar later this year in view of the coronavirus pandemic. Senior RJD leader and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha said that people would be at a great risk and sought an assurance from the Election Commission on safety of the voters.

Several political parties, including NDA ally LJP, have already urged the Election Commission to defer Assembly elections in the state in view of the prevailing situation. The parties have alleged that it is not feasible to hold polls when lives are at stake. In a communication, the parties said if elections are held on time, ballot papers should be used.

Bihar is slated to go to polls in October-November this year. The term of the Bihar Legislative Assembly ends on November 29.

RJD national general secretary Abdul Bari Siddiqui in a letter dated July 30, offered the idea in the face of ‘research that shows that coronavirus stays on plastic and metal surfaces for days’.

“In such a situation will elections by EVM be able to stop the danger of virus spread? Will paper ballots not be a safer alternative? If a decision is made to hold elections, then for public health and interest they should be held by paper ballots,” the party said in the letter.

Manoj Jha told The Indian Express that this was the party’s official response to EC when the poll panel solicited opinion on holding elections. On holding polls through ballot papers, Jha said that this is a strong suggestion from RJD keeping in view the kind of research reports “we have come across about metal surfaces and plastic surfaces”.

While pointing out the worsening coronavirus situation in Bihar, the party urged the EC to take a decision that saves the health of both people and democracy.

The RJD also suggested the ECI to reduce the limit of people per booth if elections are held. Siddiqui said that the upper limit per booth should be 250 voters to maintain adequate physical distancing. The ECI had earlier said there will be 1,000 voters per booth.

The party has also rejected the idea of virtual campaigning saying the method does not allow a level playing field.

“…while conducting a virtual rally, the state president of BJP, vice-president and 75 other members were found COVID-positive and the building was sealed,” the letter stated.

The party underlined that political leaders of various parties have died because of the virus and also one principal passed during election training. Besides, 10 personnel were infected during the movement of EVMs in Begusarai.

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