The April 4 Bodoland Territorial Council election in Assam has been deferred in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, a state poll official said on Friday.
The BTC's jurisdiction is over four districts -- Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri -- and they are collectively known as Bodoland Territorial Administrative Districts.
The polls to the 40-member BTC was scheduled on April 4. Filing of nominations and scrutiny of papers are already over, while the last date for withdrawal of candidates is Saturday.
"Due to various restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, it will be difficult to ensure a free and fair election. So, the commission has decided to defer it," Assam State Election Commissioner Aloke Kumar said.
After the withdrawal of nomination papers and finalisation of the candidates' list, the election process would be put on hold, Kumar said.
A new schedule will be announced for campaigning, polls and counting after assessing the situation, he said.
"The situation is such that it is difficult to anticipate a poll date. However, according to the law, the entire election process must be over by April 27," Kumar said.
The term of the outgoing council ends on that day.
The commission has the responsibility to ensure that the elections are held before that but "public safety is paramount", the SEC said.
The model code of conduct will continue to be in force, he said, adding that the district authorities will ensure that large gatherings are avoided till the new schedule is announced.
Senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a press conference earlier that the state government has requested the SEC to consider postponing the BTC polls as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)