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No clarity on by-election date

Panaji: Lack of clarity on the announcement of date for by-elections to the Mandrem and Shiroda Assembly constituencies has opened the doors in political circles for speculation about pre-matured dissolution of the Goa Legislative Assembly.

The bypolls to the Shiroda and Mandrem constituencies have been necessitated as two of the then Congress MLAs – Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte – resigned on October 16 to join Bharatiya Janata Party.

Political sources pointed out to this newspaper that the BJP is concerned about the possible influence of the result of the Mandrem and Shiroda bypolls on the Goan voters, if the Lok Sabha election is conducted after these bypolls. It was also pointed out that the present political situation in Goa is peculiar since the new MLAs of Mandrem and Shiroda need to be elected by mid-April that is before the end of six months from the date on which Sopte and Shirodkar resigned as legislators of these constituencies, respectively.

“And then, if the bypolls to these two constituencies are held along with the Lok Sabha election, then the declaration of result of the bypolls could get delayed much beyond the six-month period,” the political sources observed, pointing out that in such a case, results of both, bypolls and Lok Sabha election would come much after mid-April, resulting in constitutional violation.

It was further informed that the Election Commission of India could step in to announce the election dates – for the bypolls as well as Lok Sabha election – only after February 13 when the ongoing budget session of the Parliament ends.

The BJP, however, maintained that there is no possibility of dissolution of the state legislative Assembly, especially as Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has already ruled out the possibility of early dissolution of the state Assembly by stating that nobody can afford election at this time.

“However, politics is a dynamic field and decisions are taken on day-to-day basis, so speculating things has no meaning,” a senior party leader noted.

The delay in announcing by-elections to the two Assembly constituencies in the state has resulted in anxiety among alliance partners of the BJP-led government as well as in political circles.

According to the sources, some non-BJP ministers in the Parrikar-led government are busy trying to find out whether BJP prefers pre-matured dissolution of the state legislative Assembly and to go in for fresh elections with Lok Sabha polls even though the Chief Minister has already told his cabinet colleagues that no dissolution of the state Assembly would take place.

As per the Representation of People’s Act, by-election to fill up a vacancy arising due to resignation or death of a legislator should be held within six months after the seat falls vacant. [NT]

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