New Delhi, May 23: Elections in Bihar are likely to be held in October or November but the Election Commission will decide to set the process rolling only later this week.
Even in October and November, the poll panel would have to choose the dates carefully, working its way through the calendar during the festival season and assessing the availability of security personnel.
A meeting between commission officials and the home secretary is being worked on for a review of the law and order situation. The poll panel will ask for several companies of central paramilitary forces and the Union home ministry has to brief the commission on their availability.
Elections in Bihar have become inevitable within two weeks of Laloo Prasad Yadav casting aspersions on B.B. Tandon who is now the chief election commissioner and from that office will supervise the conduct of the hustings.
Laloo Prasad had doubted his credibility only last week, citing a letter senior IAS officer L.V. Saptharishi had written on the Chhapra Assembly poll. But he has piped down since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said it was improper to suspect the commission of caste bias.
The railway minister today said he has confidence in the poll panel. “I have full faith in the commission. Please don’t try to get me involved in any controversy with the commission afresh,” he said.
Election Commission sources said today: “We have six months’ time in which to conduct the elections; the state is under the President’s rule from March 7.”
But they added a decision on the dates would be taken after assessing the requirements and the environment.
As of late this afternoon, the commission had not received a formal intimation of the dissolution of the Assembly, the sources said.
Normally, the commission is reluctant to conduct polls in states with extremes of climate in peak summer and in the monsoon because the weather discourages a good turnout.
The full commission is likely to meet later this week for the first of a series of preparatory exercises.
The commission has six months ' till November 22 ' by which to hold the poll after the Bihar Assembly was dissolved today. The commission is not obliged to hold elections within six months from the date on which President’s rule was imposed (i.e. by September 6).
In that event, central rule will have to be extended to facilitate holding polls.
The sources said as polls in Bihar were held in February and March, a full revision of the electoral rolls was not immediately necessary.
The commission is likely to take up a countrywide revision of electoral rolls from January 2007.