Bye-polls in Karnataka on April 17: Health Department releases COVID-19 guidelines

All persons, including those vaccinated, should wear a face mask during the bye-election process up to April 17 and on May 2 when votes will be counted for results.
Inking the finger before polling
Inking the finger before polling
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The Karnataka Health Department on Friday issued COVID-induced guidelines for strict adherence while conducting the bye-polls to one Lok Sabha seat and two Legislative Assembly seats in the state on April 17.

 "In view of the prevailing Covid situation in the state, all stakeholders involved in the conduct of the 3 by-elections have to strictly follow the guidelines of the Election Commission for their safety and to contain the virus spread," said state health commissioner Trilok Chandra in an order.

"Bye-elections will be held for the Belgaum Lok Sabha constituency in the north-west region and Basavakalyan and Mask (ST) assembly seats in Bidar and Raichur districts in the northern region. The vote count for the three seats is on May 2.

As per the guidelines, all persons, including those vaccinated should wear a face mask during the bye-election process up to April 17 and on May 2 when votes will be counted for results.

"Thermal scanning or screening of all persons concerned will be carried to ensure they are COVID-free in view of the surge in cases during its second wave in the state," said the order.

Hand sanitiser dispensers, liquid soap and water will be made available to maintain hygiene in halls, rooms, offices and premises where election activity is carried.

 "Physical distance of 6 feet or 2 metres has to be maintained at all places where election-related activity is conducted to prevent the virus spread," said the order.

 Polling booths will be set up in large halls to ensure social distancing by voters and officials on duty.

"Nodal health officers will be designated to oversee COVID-related arrangements and preventive measures during the electoral process," said the order.

The guidelines have also stipulated 1,000 electors instead of 1,500 in a polling booth to cast their votes. 

Candidates have been advised to file nomination online on the website of the chief electoral officer or district electoral officer (CEO/DEO) along with affidavits and submit their printout to the returning officer.

"Candidates are also advised to deposit the security money through online mode instead of doing it with a case in the treasury," said the order.

 The guidelines restrict the number of persons accompanying a candidate to 2 when submitting the nomination form to the returning officer at a time.

 As per the schedule, the last date of nominations is on March 30, scrutiny on March 31 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations on April 3.

Vacancy for the Belagavi seat was caused due to the death of Union Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi due to COVID-19 on September 23, 2020. He was a four-time BJP member from the high-profile constituency.

Similarly, the vacancy for the Basavakalyan seat was caused due to the death of opposition Congress legislator B Narayan Rao on September 24, 2020, who succumbed to COVID-19 at a private hospital in Bengaluru. 

The Maski reserved seat has fallen vacant after Congress rebel MLA Pratap Gowda Patil resigned in July 2019 and defected to the ruling BJP.

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