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Since 1st March, 1999
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November deadline for Bihar poll
- Dates to be announced after taking into account festivals, Nitish cries foul

New Delhi, May 31: Giving short shrift to demands from the NDA for early polls in Bihar, the Election Commission today said the state would be ready for the exercise only in October-November.

The elections will be completed by November 22, which marks the six-month deadline from the dissolution of the Assembly.

The announcement immediately evoked sharp reactions from the NDA. Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar alleged that the panel had based its decision on a “tailored report” of the state administration. “The local administration has tailored the report as per the whims and fancies of their political masters and the commission has taken a decision on the basis of those reports,” Nitish said here.

The full commission, led by Chief Election Commissioner B.B. Tandon, held three meetings after its two-member team of deputy election commissioner Anand Kumar and legal adviser S.K. Mehendiratta submitted its assessment for Bihar today.

“Having carefully considered various pros and cons and the recommendations of the two-member team, the full Election Commission is of the unanimous view that holding a free and fair poll during the period July-August and September 2005 is ruled out.

“The commission is further of the considered view that the suitable period for holding the election in Bihar will be October to November 2005,” the panel said in a press note.

The date for the elections will be announced after the commission has studied the calendar of events for festivals and the environment.

It was pointed out that a Supreme Court judgment says that elections have to be held at the earliest in the event of premature dissolution of the Assembly and within six months from the date of dissolution.

Commission sources said several political parties had requested its team in Patna last week that the election should be held before the monsoon sets in and before the expiry of central rule on September 6. There were also representations favouring polls after the monsoon because large parts of Bihar are flood-prone. The commission had also tapped the resources of the meteorological department and the Central Water Commission to make its assessment.

The monsoon is expected in Bihar by the middle of June “only a fortnight from today as per the forecast and the previous records furnished by the IMD”, the panel said.

The commission would need more time to prepare for the polls that will include updating of electoral rolls and servicing of electronic voting machines and mobilisation of central paramilitary forces in adequate numbers.

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