Hold bypolls to two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat together, demands Congress

Ahmedabad: Terming as “unconstitutional” the Election Commission of India’s (ECI’s) decision to hold separate bypolls to two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat, the State Congress on June 16 accused the ruling BJP of pressurising the poll body so that it could win both the seats.

The Opposition party also raised question marks over the impartiality of the EC and threatened to move the Supreme Court against it.

“Election to two vacant Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat should be held together. But in order not to lose any of the two seats, the BJP has pressurised the Election Commission into holding the polls to the two seats separately, which is unconstitutional,” Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda told reporters in Ahmedabad on June 16.

“The notification is wrong, unconstitutional and raises questions over the impartiality of the Election Commission. We will move the Supreme Court against the notification,” Mr. Chavda said.

The EC on June 15 said that bypolls to six Rajya Sabha seats, including two in Gujarat vacated by Union Ministers Amit Shah and Smriti Irani, will be held on July 5.

The seats fell vacant after Mr. Shah won from Gandhinagar and Ms. Irani from Amethi Lok Sabha constituencies respectively.

Reacting to Mr. Chavda’s accusations, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said by-elections to the Rajya Sabha seats are held separately, which is why the EC decided to issue separate notifications for the same.

He expressed confidence that both the seats will be won by the BJP.

“The system is such that by-election to Rajya Sabha seats is not held together, but separately. There will be separate notifications for the two seats, and we will certainly win both the seats as we have sufficient number [of votes],” Mr. Rupani said.

The EC on June 15 clarified that the vacancies for bypolls to all Houses, including the Rajya Sabha, are considered “separate vacancies” and separate notifications are issued and separate polls are held, though the schedule can be the same.

It had said that notifications for the bypolls will be issued on June 18.

The poll watchdog had cited two Delhi High Court rulings of 1994 and 2009 which had supported the system of holding separate bypolls in the same State under provisions of the Representation of the People Act.