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Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: It is now more than two years that the elections to various urban local bodies (ULBs) in Odisha are still pending. After some legal confusion and subsequent Covid-19 lockdown, the fate of the civic polls still hangs in balance owing to the inordinate delay.

However, Law Minister Pratap Jena on Thursday said that the elections to various urban local bodies in the State will be held soon. “The process has already started in the State,” said Jena.
Already efforts are on to ensure that the reservations do not exceed 50 per cent as per the court’s order, he added.

Rabindra Sahu, secretary of the State Election Commission said, “It is Odisha government’s job to complete the delimitation of wards and reservation of seats. Once the State government provides the final list, we will start the process of voters list and other works.”

It is pertinent to mention here that the Orissa High Court had struck down Odisha Municipal (Delimitation of wards, Reservation of seats and Conduct of Elections) Amendment Rules, 2016 last year after the reservation of seats crossed 50 per cent.

The reserved seats as per the 2016 Odisha Municipal Rules had touched 66 per cent. Though the State Government moved the Supreme Court, the latter upheld the HC judgment.

So as to keep the reservation within 50 per cent, the Odisha government needs to amendment Odisha Municipal Act and get it passed in the Assembly.

The delay on conduct of the civic body polls has provided an opportunity to the Opposition parties to train their guns on the State government.

Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik alleged that the State government is yet to complete the necessary formalities as per the court’s direction.

“I feel that the State government is afraid of holding the civic body polls,” said Patnaik.
State BJP General Secretary Golak Mohapatra said despite Supreme Court’s order, the Odisha government is delaying the entire process as the ruling BJD is not ready to face the urban voters.

“The State government is simply making excuses and is intentionally holding the civic body polls,” alleged Mohapatra.

(Edited By Pradeep Singh)

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