BJP demands immediate civic polls in Odisha
Bhubaneswar: Alleging that the State poll panel is working at the behest of the BJD Government in Odisha, the Opposition BJP on Sunday demanded that elections to 114 civic bodies should be held at the earliest. Polls to five municipal corporations and 109 municipalities and notified area councils are due since September 2018.
Addressing a press conference here, State BJP president Samir Mohanty accused the State poll panel of failing to perform its constitutional duties. “The State Election Commission, Odisha has been functioning under the BJD Government and is not performing its constitutional duties,” he said. Tenure of boards of the civic bodies had ended in September 2018, and there are no public representatives, senior BJP leader Pitambar Acharya also told reporters. “This is not a good sign for a democracy. The civic polls should be conducted at the earliest,” he said.
As elections to the urban local bodies (ULBs) have not been held since September 2018, the Government officials are functioning as executive officers in the civic administration in addition to their normal duties, the BJP leaders said.
“The urban local bodies run by officers are not only depriving people of getting benefits of various welfare schemes but also promoted corrupt practices in the administration,” Acharya alleged.
Though the SEC has started the process of conducting panchayat polls, there is “no such move to hold elections to the civic bodies,” Mohanty said.
Elections to the ULBs are pending due to legal issues over the Odisha Municipal Rules-2016, Acharya claimed. “The State Election Commission should move the Orissa High Court in this regard. Otherwise, we will approach the High Court,” he said.
The High Court had struck down the Odisha Municipal (Delimitation of wards, Reservation of seats and Conduct of Elections) Amendment Rules, 2016 after the reservation of seats crossed the 50 per cent limit. The State Government needs to amend the Odisha Municipal Act to keep the reservation within the 50 per cent limit, and the amendment should be passed by the Assembly.
The ruling BJD rejected all the allegations and accused the saffron party of insulting the State Election Commission. “The allegations against the SEC is unfortunate and ridiculous,” BJD spokesperson Lenin Mohanty said in a statement. He also said the BJP has been rejected by people of Odisha in several elections.