Pradeep Singh

Odisha Governor Professor Ganeshi Lal today paved the way for the much-awaited elections to the Urban Local Bodies in the State by giving his assent to the Odisha Municipal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021. Now, the million dollar question is, when will the civic bodies polls be held in the State?

Since 2018, elections to 114 ULBs including five municipal corporations and 48 municipalities in the State are pending. Besides, a case related to the formation of the two new corporations (Rourkela and Sambalpur) is already pending before the court.

It is speculated that the Odisha government may consider holding the elections after the Panchayat polls in the State or they may go for simultaneous polls in February 2022.

Meanwhile, it is claimed that continuous pressure from the Opposition parties and after the BJP moved the Orissa High Court against the State government over the delay in ULB elections, the ruling BJD was forced to take steps towards holding the polls.

"Following pressure from different political parties and directions from the court, the government has now decided to hold the polls. We welcome the decision. The reservation process should be carried out in a fair manner," said senior Congress leader and Barabati (Cuttack) MLA, Mohammed Moquim.

Only after much hue and cry, the State government has been forced to go for the polls, said Odisha BJP general secretary, Prithvitraj Harichandan. "We will continue to put pressure on the government till the elections are conducted in the State," he said.

BJD MLA Ananta Narayan Jena said that notification for the polls will be released after the delimitation and reservation exercises are over.

As per the gazette notification issued today, the maximum limit for reservation of seats has been kept at 50 per cent for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and backward class citizens in ULBs.