Uncertainty looms over elections to 65 civic bodies

Bhubaneswar: Uncertainty looms over elections to 65 urban local bodies (ULBs), which should be held by September this year by the State Election Commission (SEC), as the State government has expressed its incapability to complete ward delimitation and seat reservation within stipulated time frame.

As per a letter written to the SEC on June 13, the State government stated it is impossible to complete ward delimitation of 90 ULBs along with reservation of seats and hearing of 6,546 complaints within September.

Moreover, while Urban Development minister, Niranjan Pujari is hearing the complaint on ward delimitation and reservation of seats, Director of Municipal Administration, Sangramjit Nayak has written another letter to the district collectors to make hearings once again.

The Collectors have also been asked to provide information on voters and reservation of seats in a particular format.

As per schedule, the hearings should have been completed by September 6.

“Hearing is on and the schedule has been given to the SEC,” said Niranjan Pujari, Urban Development Minister.

While tenure of 65 ULBs will get over by September 19, term of 20 civic bodies will end on November 22.

Earlier, on January 30, the Director of Municipal Administration had directed the Collectors to complete ward delimitation and reservation of seats by April 30. However, the work is yet to be completed.

On the other hand, the government has decided to knock the doors of the Supreme Court challenging the Orissa High Court order on restricting reservation of seats within 50 percent.

“The State government is bound to hold elections in five years. But if the SC says reservation should be within 50 percent, the State government will have to hold the elections even after completion of 5 years,” said Amareshwar Mishra, a Political Science expert.

Meanwhile, BJP pulled up the ruling party alleging the latter is trying to delay the civic polls.

“The government knows the ruling party will not do well in ULB elections. Therefore, the State government is making a ploy,” said Prithviraj Harichandan, Odisha BJP general secretary.

Refuting the charges, BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said “The government wants no category should be left out which might give an impression to the BJP that the ruling party is afraid of ULB polls or does not want to hold polls. But the saffron party should know that it has secured third position in all by-elections since 2014.”

}