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Ramakanta Biswas

The Odisha government's decision to hold direct elections for the post of Mayor of Municipal Corporations and Chairperson of Municipalities and Notified Area Councils (NAC) in the State has been welcomed by people. As per the existing norms, corporators elect mayor in a municipal corporation while councillors of a municipality elect the chairperson. 

The State Housing and Urban Development Department on Friday issued a draft notification to amend the Odisha Municipal (Delimitation of Wards, Reservation of Seats and Conduct of Election) Rules 1994 for the election of Mayor and Chairperson by people through direct voting.

"Earlier, Mayor was being chosen not by people but by corporators. I appreciate the move taken by the State government. Because, I feel people should have a say in the selection of Mayor," said a youth of Bhubaneswar.

"Now, people or voters can say that whom they had elected become chairman or mayor. If we see the decision from a party's perspective, it has been taken to maintain discipline and avoid infighting," said a resident of Kendrapara.

However, the Opposition has targeted the government over the move. The BJP alleged that the State government hurriedly notified the Municipal Amendment after the saffron party filed a petition in the Orissa High Court over delay in the ULB polls.  

"The Odisha Municipal (amendment) bill and Odisha Municipal Corporation (amendment) bill were passed in the State Assembly in 2018, but why the government was in slumber for the past three years. Now, the government has hurriedly notified this to delay the polls further," alleged BJP leader Samir Dey.

Welcoming the draft notification, Congress congratulated the State government. Congress MLA Suresh Routray said, "We had demanded direct election for the posts of Mayor of Municipal Corporations and Chairperson of Municipalities and Notified Area Councils (NAC). Now, people will directly choose the heads whom they think suitable."

Reacting to the allegations of BJP, BJD MLA Ananta Narayan Jena said, "All the procedure is being conducted as per the Municipal Corporation Act Manual. Now, we have to wait for the feedback of people."

"For us, both direct and indirect elections are same. The Biju Janata Dal is always with the people and will remain in future. The party is ready to face any kind of election," he added.

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