Will the Panchayat polls in Odisha meet the same fate as the civic body elections in the State?
While some believe that the lackadaisical attitude of the Odisha government may result in delay in the Panchayat polls, the Opposition parties have accused the ruling-BJD of being insensitive towards the people's rights to vote to choose their representatives.
The Panchayat elections are slated to be held in February 2022. However, as the State government is yet to complete the delimitation process and determine reservation of seats, it is feared that the election process may get delayed.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Supreme Court had asked the State governments not to exceed 50 per cent reservation of seats in case of local body elections. The Opposition parties believe that the State government has found itself in a spot following the Apex Court ruling and that is the reason it is delaying the entire electoral process.
Though the Election Commission had written to the State twice in January this year to complete the process-- amendment of the existing laws to determine the reservation and delimitation of seats-- by April 30, 2021, the government is reportedly yet to make any substantial progress in this regard.
Three years have already lapsed but the Election Commission is still unable to conduct the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) polls. The State government is advancing excuses that it will have to amend the existing laws for the 50 per cent reservation, but the amendment will take not take more than one hour to make, said senior lawyer Pitamber Acharya.
Citing the present electoral situation in the State, Acharya said, "This is a constitutional crisis."
Around three years have passed thinking that the State government will hold the civic body polls and the same might happen in case of the panchayat elections, said State BJP general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan.
"We hope the Odisha government will not play delaying tactics this time and ensure the Panchayat elections are held and the democratic process heads in the right direction," added the BJP leader.
Taking a dig at the BJD government, senior Congress leader Sura Routray said that the State government is scared and it will not let the Panchayat elections to happen in the State.
"Like the ULB polls, the Panchayat elections will also not be conducted in the State. People are only being misled and with the help of officers alone, the State is being governed. The government is in fear and hence, it will not hold the polls," said Routray.
Commenting on the issue, ruling-BJD MLA Amar Satpathy said that the government will definitely take all the necessary measures for holding the polls.
"Every requirements, like the election schedule and others, will be fulfilled as per the law of the land," he added.