Bengaluru civic polls by August 28

Bengaluru: The elections to the Bengaluru civic corporation will be completed by August 28, a month later than scheduled, after the Supreme Court on Friday granted more time to complete the process, a top official said on Sunday.

“As the Supreme Court on July 4 gave us eight more weeks to conduct the civic polls, we have to complete the entire process by August 28 rather than July 28, as announced earlier (June 25),” Karnataka Election Commissioner P.N. Srinivasachary told IANS.

“We will come out with a fresh calendar of events in the next 10-12 days, as we need about 40 days to complete the whole exercise, including polling, counting of votes and declaring results,” Srinivasachary added.

Though the state government approached the apex court to put off the polls from July 28 till the delimitation of wards was completed as per the 2011 Census, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu disallowed the plea and gave the state just eight more weeks to complete the process.

A single bench of the Karnataka High Court on June 22 thwarted a similar attempt by the ruling Congress government to get the civic polls postponed beyond three-month deadline the apex court had set on May 5.

Dismissing the state’s interlocutory application along with that of the state commission for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, Justice B.V. Nagarathna levied Rs.10,000 fine on each of the petitioners for abusing the law process and directed them to abide by the top court’s May 5 order.

Even before the Bengaluru Municipal Corporation’s five-year term ended on April 22, Justice Nagarathana on March 30 directed the state government and the state poll panel to hold the civic polls by May 30 in accordance with the apex court’s earlier rulings.

In a bid to avoid holding the elections by May 30, the state government had also petitioned a division bench of the high court, which, on April 24 gave six months to elect a new civic body. But it expressed reservation over the state cabinet’s April 18 decision to supersede the civic body four days before its term was ending on April 22.

On a review petition by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party against the high court’s April 24 order, the apex court directed the state authorities to hold the civic polls by August 5.

The century-old BBMP was expanded in 2007 by including seven city municipal councils and one town municipal council and 111 surrounding villages to increase civic wards to 198 from 100 earlier.

The state government also tried to defer the civic polls by getting the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act amended on April 20 in the state assembly to trifurcate the BBMC but could not make it a law as the opposition BJP and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) blocked the bill’s passage in the legislative council where they command majority and succeeded in getting it referred to a house committee for scrutiny.

Cancellation of the July 28 poll date and withdrawal of the model code have emboldened the state government to announce new schemes and implement the projects over the next 10 days before the poll panel notifies the new schedule for the civic polls by August 28.

As reservation for women has been increased to 50 percent in local body polls under the panchayati raj system, de-limitation of wards to accommodate more women candidates will imply many of the BJP’s men corporators would be barred from re-contesting.