Special Correspondent

Nine out of 11 parties wanted by-poll postponed in view of Pongal

EC will discuss date for by-poll with recognised political parties: Navin Chawla

CHENNAI: The by-election to the Pennagaram Assembly constituency, slated for January 20, has been cancelled.

Announcing this, Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, who arrived here from New Delhi by a scheduled airline, told journalists at the airport that nine out of 11 political parties which attended a meeting held by Chief Electoral Officer Naresh Gupta on Sunday wanted the by-election postponed on account of Pongal festival. Taking this into consideration, the Election Commission would issue an order rescinding its earlier announcement of holding the by-poll.

The vacancy arose consequent to the demise of P.N. Periannan of the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam earlier this month. The ruling party had named its candidate.

On Sunday’s meeting, except the DMK and Congress, all parties, including the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Pattali Makkal Katchi, Communist Party of India and CPI(Marxist), sought the postponement of the by-poll.

The Commission, which issued the earlier notification on Saturday, will issue a fresh notification later. It will take up a summary revision of the voters’ rolls of the Pennagaram constituency. Work in this regard will begin on January 2 or 3, Mr. Chawla said.

Mr. Gupta indicated that the annual revision of the rolls, with January 1, 2010 as the qualifying date, is to be taken up.

In the case of Pennagaram, the schedule would be a compressed one so that the rolls could be finalised or updated expeditiously.

To a question whether the Commission would discuss with the State government the date for the by-election, Mr. Chawla replied that the EC would discuss the matter with the recognised national and State parties, not the State government. On the idea of making voting compulsory in the country in the context of the Gujarat Assembly recently adopting a legislation for local bodies’ polls, Mr. Chawla replied that right now it was not possible. The matter had to be discussed in Parliament and a law should be enacted.

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