The Delhi High Court has sought the stand of the Election Commission (EC) on a plea alleging delay in issuing of notification for by-election in Bijepur assembly constituency in Odisha. Justice Rekha Palli directed the EC’s counsel to get specific instructions regarding the time frame in which it proposes to hold the by-election. The Commissions, however, contended that the process for holding the by-election is under active consideration. The court was hearing a petition by a civil organisation which has sought direction to the Election Commission of India for early conduct of the by-elections for Bijepur assembly seat. Expressing concern over the “delay” in announcement of dates for the bypoll, Kanak Foundation has submitted that the seat had fallen vacant with the demise of MLA Subala Sahu on August 22 last year. It alleged that the EC had delayed the issuing of notification for the poll due to which the people in the constituency were suffering.
The court has fixed the matter for further hearing on February 9. During the hearing, the poll panel’s counsel submitted that VVPATs and EVMs have been procured for the elections and officials have been trained for the purpose. The issue has triggered a war of words among the major political parties — BJD and BJP — in the state. The BJD, which is in power in Odisha, has accused the BJP-led NDA government of influencing the Election Commission to delay the bypoll to the advantage of the saffron party. The BJP, however, denied the accusation.