The Election Commission on Tuesday announced that re-poll for the two seats to the Rajya Sabha (RS) from Jharkhand will be held on May 3 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and the counting of votes will be taken up the same day at 5 p.m.
The poll, which was originally held on March 30, was countermanded by the Commission following reports of “horse-trading and exchange of money for votes”. Based on the EC's request, President Pratibha Patil rescinded that poll on March 31.
As per the new schedule, the biennial poll notification will be issued on April 16. April 23 is the last date for filing of nominations. On April 24 the papers will be examined. April 26 is the last date for withdrawal of candidature, if any.
The election is caused by the retirement of former RS members Surendrajeet Singh Ahluwalia and Mabel Rebello on April 2.
In the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly (one seat is vacant), each candidate for the RS poll has to secure a minimum of 27 votes for victory. However, none of the parties has the strength in the House; while the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Jharkhand Mukti Morcha alliance has 18 members each, the Congress has 13, the Jharkhad Vikaas Morcha 11, the All Jharkhand Students Union and the Rashtriya Janata Dal 5 each, the Janata Dal (United) 3, the MSS one and others six.
The earlier poll was countermanded as the income-tax authorities seized Rs.2.15 crore in cash from a car belonging to the brother of one of the independent candidates in the poll. The seizure was made just a few hours before the beginning of polling on March 30. The EC sources claimed that the cash was meant for distribution among the MLAs to vote in favour of the independent.
CBI probe sought
Now the EC has sought a CBI probe into the entire episode of the countermanded poll and also similar such instances witnessed in the State and Odisha during 2010 RS poll.
Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi has already warned that the EC would not hesitate to countermand the re-poll too if instances of “horse trading and money power” continued.