The Gujarat State Election Commission (SEC) on Saturday decided to postpone the elections to the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation, scheduled to be held on April 18, due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, an official statement said.
The elections are postponed for an indefinite period following a request made by the main political parties including the BJP, the Congress and the AAP, and many social groups, it said.
"Taking in view the grave situation caused by the pandemic, to maintain public health and to ensure that voting is done in a free and fair environment, the State Election Commission (SEC) has decided to postpone this election till further orders," the SEC said.
As per the earlier programme, the elections were scheduled to be held on April 18 and the counting of votes was to be taken up on April 20.
Candidates had also filed their nomination papers. "We had received representations from all the political parties to postpone the elections," it said, adding that other groups like NGOs and citizen organisations had also opposed holding elections at this time.
"We had held a detailed review meeting in which we realised that a large number of people have been infected by the virus in this urban area and many people are living in containment zones. All those people and many others will not be able to vote freely due to the fear of the pandemic," it said.
The SEC further said it had reviewed the legal aspects of the decision and gone through many judgements of courts in such matters.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had on Friday urged the SEC to postpone the Gandhinagar civic polls.
In a letter to the SEC, Mr Rupani had said that it's natural that political leaders and their supporters would gather in large numbers for poll campaigning.
"Moreover, a large number of government employees would also be engaged in the election-related work. In such a scenario, it is very much possible that COVID-19 infection would spread further. Thus, I urge the SEC to consider these factors and postpone the election to GMC in a larger public interest," the Chief Minister had stated.
Gujarat's overall caseload stood at 3,37,015 and the death count at 4,697 as on April 9, as per the state health department.