Number of polling booths would be increased to 40,771 from 25,000 (File)

Thiruvananthapuram:

The election to Malappuram Lok Sabha constituency, which fell vacant after the resignation of IUML MP Kunhalikutty, will be held simultaneously with the coming assembly polls, the Election Commission (EC) said on Sunday. The polls are due to be held in April-May.

The EC delegation, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajeev Kumar, told reporters that the dates for the assembly polls will be announced soon after considering political parties’ suggestions.

“We will take into consideration the suggestions put forward by various political parties to schedule the dates, keeping in view the local festivals of Vishu, Easter and Ramadan. The request of the parties to conduct the election in a single phase manner will also be considered,” Mr Arora said.

He said in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of polling booths would be increased to 40,771 from the existing 25,000.

“The bypoll for the Malappuram constituency will be held simultaneously with the state bypolls,” the ECI said.

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Indian Union Muslim League leader and parliamentarian P K Kunhalikutty had resigned his Lok Sabha seat in Kerala to “lead” his party’s poll campaign for the polls.

The EC discussed the preparations for the election with state Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena, Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta, incoming Chief Secretary VP Joy, state police chief Loknath Behra, all district collectors, district police chiefs and other officials.

“We held a meeting with the CBSE authorities and will consider the exam dates too before finalising the election date,” Mr Arora said. He said Kerala has a history of high polling percentage due to high literacy and awareness and the EC would consider extending voting hours for COVID-19 patients.

“We will also consider extending the voting hours so that COVID-19 patients can exercise their right under the supervision of the health authorities,” Mr Arora said. He said the Health Secretary had given a presentation on the COVID-19 situation and the Commission was satisfied with the preparedness to tackle the pandemic.

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