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Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has once again rescheduled the upcoming by-election to Pipili constituency in Puri district. The voting which was scheduled to be held on May 13 will now be conducted on May 16, Odisha Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sushil Lohani informed on Thursday.

According to Lohani, the bypoll has been rescheduled as the religious festival of the Muslim community, Eid al-Fitr is likely to fall on May 13.

“Eid al-Fitr may fall on May 13 and voters from the Muslim community may face inconvenience while casting their votes on that day. The ECI has received some representations in this regard on the basis of which the date has been rescheduled again,” Lohani said.

“The voting in the Pipili constituency will now be held on May 16 and the counting of votes will be held on May 19. The whole election process will be completed by May 21,” Lohani added.

The ECI has issued guidelines for the conduct of the poll amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. The election campaign will now end 72 hours before the close of polls instead of earlier 48 hours. It implies that the poll campaign will end in Pipili from May 13 evening, said Lohani.

Similarly, the ECI has banned political rallies and meetings. Political parties can hold campaign through virtual mode. Maximum five persons will be allowed for door-to-door campaign.

The body temperature of all will be screened at voting centres. If any symptom is found in any voter, a token will be given to him/her. The voter will be allowed to cast his/her vote after 5 pm. Besides, gloves will be given to all voters, the CEO added.

It is reminded here that the crucial bypoll which was necessitated following the death of sitting BJD MLA Pradeep Maharathy was initially scheduled for April 17. However, the bypoll was countermanded following the death of Congress nominee, Ajit Mangaraj (52), due to Covid-19 on April 14, just three days ahead of the scheduled poll date.

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