The Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) has urged the state election commissioner (SEC) to postpone the panchayat and municipal elections in the state to April or May next year citing Covid19 pandemic.

Panchayat and municipal elections in Itanagar and Pasighat are due since May 2018.

The Congress in a representation submitted to the SEC on Tuesday said conducting elections at a time when the coronavirus cases are rising all over the state would put hundreds of lives at risk.

“As on date, Arunachal has 1559 active Covid-19 cases while 45 people have died so far in the state due to the virus. Due to the rise in the number of cases, many villages of the state have opted for community lockdowns while several families are still coping with the infection,” the APCC said.

“In such circumstances, the gathering of people for election campaigns in the villages and towns would lead to further spreading of the virus putting human lives at risk,” it added.

Covid19 is not a regular health crisis to be overlooked as it is a pandemic of extreme chronic nature without any cure, APCC said.

The state Congress also appealed to the SEC to consider important factors such as natural disaster, upcoming festivals and events like Christmas, Indigenous Faith Day, Nyokum, etc. and harvesting season before announcing the dates of the elections.

“The people of the state are still coping with the loss and suffering caused by landslides, floods, damage of crops for which the state government has not paid any compensation leading to an economic crisis and health depression.”

“Also, since it is harvesting season, the villagers would be engaged in harvesting their crops till the last week of December,” the APCC said.

The party said weather could also act as a major hurdle in conducting elections in districts like Shi-Yomi, Tawang and West Kameng where road blockages are a common sight and in remote places like Vijaynagar in Changlang district which majorly relies on helicopter services.

Since winter has already arrived in many of the districts, it will hamper all forms of communications (telecom, transportation), the state Congress said.

Though no specific date has been quoted by the state election commission regarding the panchayat and municipal elections, however, Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu had last month hinted that the same would be held soon in the state.

An all-party meeting on the local body elections was also held at the SEC’s office in Itanagar on Tuesday in which representatives of the BJP, Congress, National People’s Party, Janata Dal (United) and People’s Party of Arunachal participated.

Most of the parties demanded that the election be postponed citing the Covid19 pandemic.

DAMIEN LEPCHA

Damien Lepcha is Northeast Now Correspondent in Arunachal Pradesh. He can be reached at: lepcharaul@gmail.com