Bhubaneswar: The tenure of 65 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) will end on September 30. However, the Odisha government is yet to submit the final list of wards following reservation and delimitation, to the Sate Election Commission.
Moreover, the State Housing and Urban Development Department has moved the Supreme Court challenging the March 18 direction of the Orissa High Court that the upper limit of reservation of seats in respect of SC, ST and OBC should not exceed 50 per cent of all seats.
In view of this, it doesn't seem that the civic body elections could be conducted in September. While the concerned department secretary and minister are refraining from making any comments on the matter, Food Supplies Minister Surya Narayan Patro said that ULB elections will be conducted only after the SC hearing.
"The matter is sub-judice in SC. If the apex court directs to act as per the HC order, we will go for it; if it denies, we will continue as per the Odisha Municipality Act," said Patro.
Meanwhile, it is believed that the ruling-BJD government doesn't want to take any risk by holding the ULB polls as the setback in the panchayat elections is still haunting it. Any adverse result will affect party's prospects in 2019 general elections.
"Fearing that people's mandate may go against it, the government is making excuses and trying to postpone the ULB elections," alleged Odisha BJP spokesperson Golak Mohapatra.
Senior Odisha Congress leader Sura Routray also said that it's Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's fear of defeat that is delaying the election.
"Naveen Babu will never let the ULB elections happen. It will be conducted only after the general elections," Routray added.
However, BJD leader Arun Sahoo said, "As the State government has approached the SC, delay is supposed to happen. BJD has nothing to fear as people have been showering the party with love and affection for the last 20 years."