CEC: Never thought of deferring assembly polls due to Covid surge

Chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra has said that the EC hasn’t considered deferment of the just-concluded assembly polls due to the surge in Covid-19 infections, contrary to election commissioner Rajiv Kumar’s assertion in the draft affidavit he had wanted to submit in Madras high court. The draft was not filed as EC lawyers said that the commission should present one affidavit.

Kumar, in the draft affidavit had said the option of deferring some phases was “actively considered” but shelved as even temporary disenfranchising of voters would cause a hue and cry. He said implications of not completing elections on time, including conducting them later under an extended term or President’s rule, might attract sharper criticism of one party being favoured over another.

Chandra, in his first interview after taking over as CEC, said while the EC did discuss a request to club last two phases, there was no thought process in the panel to defer the polls.

The CEC also said Kumar’s affidavit could not be filed in Madras HC as the counsel said that only the EC—and not an individual election commissioner—could do so. He added Kumar’s views were incorporated in the EC affidavit as well as the SLP, and that both were approved by the latter.

Chandra batted for post poll immunity to election officers and said the EC was open to revising its Covid-19 guidelines for future polls in consultation with political parties.

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