"Fresh dates shall be notified in due course after reviewing the situation," the poll panel said.

Image for representation: PTI
Coronavirus Election Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - 09:33

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Election Commission in New Delhi on Tuesday extended the schedule for the bye-election to the Telangana Legislative Council from Nizamabad under local authorities constituency by 60 days. The poll body took into a gathering of people in connection with the election is adverse due to fear of transmission of the coronavirus.

"Fresh dates shall be notified in due course after reviewing the situation," said the poll panel.

According to the earlier schedule, the notification was to be issued on March 12, last date for filing nominations on March 19, and last date for withdrawal of nominations on March 23. The vote was scheduled on April 7, counting on April 9, and the process was to complete by April 13.

The vacancy arose due to disqualification of R. Bhoopathi Reddy on 16 January 2019. Those in the race included Kalvakuntla Kavitha, the former Member of Parliament (MP) from Nizamabad, who is also the daughter of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. 

"The poll process would necessarily include gathering of polling official, support officials and members of the respective local bodies on the poll day, which may not be suitable in view of the prevailing unforeseen situation and related advisories in the country," the EC said in a notification.

The EC cited the March 22 communication from the Centre to state governments, asking them to take all measures to break the Covid-19 chain of transmission, which included suspension of train services and closure of all activities except for essential services.

The EC also took into account the lockdown declared by the Telangana government to contain coronavirus transmission. "The prevailing unforeseen situation of public health emergency indicates the need for avoidance of possibilities of gatherings of any nature, which exposes all concerned to possible health hazard," it said.

On January 16, 2019 three MLCs -- Bhoopathi Reddy, Yadav Reddy (under the MLA quota) and Ramulu Naik (under the Governor quota) -- had defected from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to the Congress before the December 7 Assembly elections.

They didn't resign their council posts and were disqualified. Bhoopathi Reddy challenged this in the high court. In July 2019, the court upheld the disqualification of three MLCs by the House.