Published: 07th November 2022
#WhatTheFAQ: Munugode bypoll results declared! But what are bypolls? What is their impact?
Indian elections are often dramatic and exciting. With the recent announcement of the bypoll results, we declare what makes them important
As the month of November began in India, the season of bypolls started. And as the results of the Munugode bypolls in Telangana were declared yesterday, November 6, people have been checking them continuously. But why so much uproar over the bypolls? Did you know that bypolls are special elections conducted in special circumstances only? Here’s more on that…
What is special about bypolls?
Bye-elections or by-elections, commonly known as bypolls in India, are conducted when a political office goes vacant before the next general elections have been conducted. Bypolls are held with the definite purpose of filling the vacancy. Here, Section 151A of Representation of the People Act 1951, comes into play, which states that the time limit for a bypoll to fill vacancies either for parliament or legislative assembly is six months from the date of occurrence of vacancy, but often subject to certain conditions.
What are the conditions?
It is interesting to note how much thought has gone into drafting the specificities. Here are the conditions under which vacancies are filled using bypolls:
1. After the office has gone vacant, the remainder of the term (until the next general elections) should be more than a year
2. Panchayats and municipalities can be reconstituted through bypolls after premature dissolution before the five-year expiry period and continue to serve the remainder of the term. But if the remainder of the term is less than six months, then no elections will be conducted
3. The Election Commission in consultation with the central government must certify that it is alright to hold the bye-election within the said period.
What’s up with November 2022 bypolls?
The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced on October 3 that all the bypolls (including for one Lok Sabha seat, Rajya Sabha seats and civic body polls) due in various states would be postponed to November 2022, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The voting for six states took place on November 3 and the counting was done on November 6. These constituencies experienced the high-drama polling: Andheri East in Maharashtra; Mokama and Gopalganj in Bihar; Adampur in Haryana; Munogode in Telangana; Gola Gokrannath in Uttar Pradesh and Dhamnagar in Odisha.
How does a political seat go vacant before its expiry?
A seat is vacant following these circumstances:
1. If the person holding office faces death or resigns.
2. If the person holding office becomes ineligible to continue. This happens if the person faces criminal conviction, is removed by a referendum by voters (known as recall, applicable in certain Indian states), holds a seat in two constituencies/Houses of the Parliament or fails to maintain a minimum attendance (In India, a minimum of 10 per cent attendance by the members is necessary).
Do other countries also have bypolls?
Yes, many other countries follow the principle of bypolls. They are known as special elections in the United States and the Philippines, Zimni election (supplementary election) in Urdu, in Pakistan and bye-elections in Ireland, as per Wikipedia.