Rashmi Ranjan

The Odisha government has initiated the process to table an amendment in the Legislative Assembly over the proposed reservation of seats in the ensuing Pachayat polls in the State, informed Panchayati Raj Minister, Pratap Jena on Thursday.

Jena told reporters that the BJD-led State government will table the necessary amendments required for the Pachayat election in the next Legislative Assembly session.

"We have been making demands to the Centre to conduct caste-based census. But, no step has been taken so far. Even if the Centre didn’t consider our demand, we will still pitch 27 per cent OBC candidates in the Panchayat elections. No delimitation of Panchayats will be made this year."

Commenting on the matter Odisha BJP vice president Bhrugu Baxipatra said, "Panchayat elections will be held as per the schedule.  The Supreme Court had already asked to hold Panchayat elections with 50 per cent cap on reservation of candidates. There is nothing new."

He said the government should first conduct Urban Local Bodies (ULB) poll and then consider holding the Pachayat elections. “But fearing defeat in the ULB elections, the government is trying to organise Pachayat polls first," alleged Baxipatra.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Orissa High Court had asked the State Chief Secretary and the State Election Commission to furnish reply within four weeks on the issue of conducting civic body polls in the State.

The court issued the directive while hearing a string of writ petitions seeking immediate conduct of the civic body polls.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Opposition parties, including BJP, have been accusing the Odisha government and the State Election Commission of creating a crisis situation by deferring the civic polls for nearly three years.