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EC defends delay in Bijepur by-poll

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Bhubaneswar: Even as the ruling BJD and Congress had raised questions over the delay in issuance of notification for the Bijepur by-poll, Odisha’s Chief Electoral Officer DN Gupta on Wednesday said the administration is fully prepared to conduct the by-election.
“Regarding the date for the Bijepur by-election, the date is being decided by the Election Commission of India. They are taking into consideration two important points – availability of VVPAT (voter-verified paper audit trail) and the petition filed earlier (by BJD’s Prasanna Acharya) pertaining to the 2014 assembly election,” Gupta said.

Gupta said since the court case was settled on October 16, the ECI might have been calculating the six-month period from the date of disposal of the case.

The by-poll is due after sitting Congress MLA Subal Sahu died in August. Since Sahu died on August 22, the by-poll process is supposed to get over by February 21, a period of six months as per norms. If the six-month period is taken into account from the date of the settlement of court case, the by-election has to be held by April 16.

On its preparations, Gupta said the VVPAT and electronic voting machines have been procured for the Bijepur by-election and training of government officials has already been started.

On December 28 the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the dates for the bypoll in three Lok Sabha and two assembly constituencies in Rajasthan and West Bengal. This forced the BJD and the Congress to question the ECI.

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