Congress threatens to move court over decision to delay Gram Panchyat polls

Anil Urs Bengaluru | Updated on May 29, 2020 Published on May 29, 2020

As Karnataka State Election Commission (SEC) announced the postponement of Gram Panchyat (GPs) elections, the principal Opposition party Congress has threatened to move the court.

The SEC cited the spread of Covid-19 in the State as the reason for putting off the polls. “It has examined the feasibility of conducting general elections to GPs. Considering the current situation as exceptional circumstance, it has been decided to temporarily postpone the elections to the GPs,” said the SEC in a statement.

In the State, GPs tenure are to end between May 15 and September 30, with this the term of over 6,000 GPs with over 95,000 members is set to end. The postponement of polls gives ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to appoint administrators and control GPs.

Leader of Opposition, Siddaramaiah, has objected the the SEC’s move and said: “The decision, by State Election Commission’s CEO, to postpone GPs elections is against the provisions of Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act 1993. The Congress party will question this undemocratic act in the court of law.”

Siddaramaiah tweeted “@ceo_karnataka is playing to the tune of @BJP4Karnataka which is evident in their decision to postpone Gram Panchayat elections. @BJP4Karnataka is trying gain power through unethical means as public sentiments are against them.”

Opposing the government’s move, the Congress party is planning to protest against the decision of SEC at gram panchayat level. “There is no provision to nominate members of Gram Panchayat without conducting elections,” said Siddaramaiah.

Another opposition party, Janata Dal Secular (JDS), also opposed postponement of GP elections and a proposal to appoint administrators.

The party, earlier in the month, had petitioned the SEC not to accept the government proposal, and had suggested to SEC instead of appointing administrators, extend the terms of members by six months as per the provision of the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act, 1993.

A delegation led by JDS’ State President, HK Kumaraswamy, and former Minister HD Revanna asked the SEC to send back the government proposal on administrators. A memorandum from the JDS said that the term of Zilla Panchayats and Taluk Panchayats also comes to an end in May 2021. “Though elections are to be conducted six months before the term ends, because of Covid-19 it may not be possible. But appointment of administrators is like providing a backdoor entry,” it said.

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Published on May 29, 2020
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