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Mrunal Manmay Dash

As the three-tier Panchayat elections in Odisha inch nearer, anticipation for the polls to the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) is gradually taking centre stage in the state politics.

Notably Odisha government recently announced the election process to the Berhampur, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack Municipal Corporations apart from the other 107 municipalities and notified area councils (NACs).

However, now serious questions have been raised over the situation in the corporations of Sambalpur and Rourkela which are yet to see any elections for more than 8 years.

As per reports, Sambalpur Municipal Corporation which was formed in 2013 headed for a ward delimitation drive in 2015 but a local activist named Ajay Mohanty moved the Orissa High Court seeking stay on the order of the civic body to reserve all the five wards in Hirakud.

Due to the development, the elections to the Sambalpur Municipal Corporation have been put on hold since 2017.

Speaking on the issue, Prasanna Sahu, an associate of the complainant said, “Ajay Mohanty has prayed to the High Court against the ward delimitation of the corporation which blatantly ignored the rights of general category people.”

Slamming the State government over failing to handle the situation carefully to ensure quicker elections in Sambalpur, Girish Patel, the District BJP President of Sambalpur said, “The government fears that if an election is held right now, the BJP will win the corporation. And without the public representatives, the government is finding it easier to loot the public money by corruption with help of bureaucrats.”

However, BJD Spokesperson, Raseswari Panigrahi refuted the allegations of the Opposition and said, “We cannot conduct an election here because the issue is still subjudice. I am sure, the case will be disposed off quickly and the election will be held soon.”

Similar is the case of Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMRC) which is fighting a legal tussle over inclusion of Jagda and Jhartarang Panchayats under the ambit of Corporation. Despite inception in 2014, the corporation is yet to go to polls since then.

As per reports, one Birua Oram and Ramnath Toppo moved the Orissa High Court over the inclusion of Jagada and Jhartarang Panchayats in the Corporation jurisdiction. Since then, Toppo has been dead, but no decision has been taken to conduct elections for the Corporation.

President of Rourkela District Congress, George Tirkey said, “The government never went to court to resolve the pending issue. In fact, the delay in elections is helping them to continue the bureaucracy that has been instrumental in funding the party.”

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