Uncertainty looms over conduct of Municipal Polls in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Uncertainty looms large over the conduct of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) on time as Odisha government has decided to move Supreme Court against the Orissa High Court order regarding reservation of seats in different urban local bodies.

Earlier, the Orissa High Court had asked the state government not to exceed 50 per cent reservation of seats for the scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST) and other backward classes (OBC) in the non-scheduled areas for the forthcoming ULB polls.

As a result of the government’s decision, the scheduled municipal elections scheduled to be held by December in 87 urban local bodies in the State is likely to get delayed. The State government had earlier implemented above 50 per cent reservation of seats in over 55 ULBs.

The process of delimitation of wards and reservation of seats has been completed by district collectors and submitted their reports to the State government. Presently, hearing on the objections and suggestions on the delimitation of wards and reservation of seats is being conducted.

As the process is in its final stage, the State government will appeal before the Supreme Court to conduct the elections in accordance with the prevalent reservation structure.

“The State government has ordered to move the Supreme Court after examination of the facts. The process is underway and further action will be taken after the order of the Supreme Court,” said Director, Municipal Administration,Sangramjit Nayak.

The Orissa High Court had ordered to limit the reservation of seats to 50 per cent on the basis of a 2010 decision of the Supreme Court.

On the other hand opposition parties have criticised the State government’s decision. It has been alleged that the State government is not interested to conduct the ULB polls in fear of defeat.

“Neither the State government or the State Election Commission is interested in conducting the polls. The government is not in a position to face any election as no developmental works have been done,” said BJP spokesperson, Pitambar Acharya.

Expressing similar views, Congress MLA Jacob Pradhan said, “The State government wants to gain power directly by not conducting ULB polls. I doubt they have planned to conduct it after the 2019 assembly elections.

In response to the allegations, BJD MLA Pushpendra Singhdeo said, “The State government is concerned about it and had started the process for conducting the elections. BJD has always emerged victorious and therefore there is no fear of losing polls.

Under the present senario,  if the Supreme Court upholds the decision of the High Court the State government will have to start the election process again which will utimately delay in conduct of the ULB polls.