The side effect of Covid-19: 17 seats in the Bihar legislative council will be vacated on May 6

PATNA: The Covid-19 pandemic has now begun to affect the strength of members of the state legislative body.

In what may be termed 'Covid-19 side effects', a total of 17 seats (over 22% of the total) on the 75-member legislative council will be vacated on May 6 (Wednesday), as the Commission Electoral has deferred surveys for these seats due to unforeseen public health situation and the consequent closure.

Of the 17 members whose six-year term will end on May 6, nine were elected from the constituency, four from the graduate constituency, while another four from the teacher constituency in 2014.

Ideally, the biennial elections for these seats should have been completed by the end of April so that elected members could take an oath against the vacant seats by May 6. But the commission has not yet announced a schedule for these surveys due to the Union's interior ministry guidelines for maintaining social distancing.

The council vice president, who currently works as the incumbent president in the absence of a regular president, is one of 17 members whose term will end on Wednesday. His retirement as a member of the council will lead to the vacancy in both positions and vice president. The position of president has been vacant since May 9, 2017, when its last owner left office.

I will leave the office of the acting president on May 6, if the council elections are not held on time, Rashid had told TOI earlier. Rashid did not respond to a TOI phone call Tuesday.

Under constitutional provisions, the governor, on the advice of the state government, nominates a member of the council as interim president in the event of a vacancy in both positions of president and vice president. So far, the state government has not sent any advice to the governor for the nomination of a person as acting president of the council, sources from Raj Bhawan told TOI on Tuesday.

The state government may send its advice to the Raj Bhawan on Wednesday, said a council official.

In addition to Rashid, other prominent people whose term as a council member will be completed on May 6 are the minister of building construction, the minister of information and public relations, Neeraj Kumar and the former minister and president of the state Congress.

While issuing a new biennial notification to the Maharashtra legislative council on May 1, the Election Commission said it would review other deferred elections in the coming week. However, the commission has not yet sent any communication about it to the office of the electoral director (CEO), Bihar.

So far, the commission has not made any decision on holding the biennial Bihar council elections, either from the Vidhan Sabha constituency or the graduate/faculty constituency. So far we have not received any communication from the commission, CEO HR Srinivasa told TOI on Tuesday.