Cong demands postponement of zilla panchayat polls
“Despite assurance by the BJP government on the floor of the House in 2017, frequent reminders by the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj and subsequent affidavit filed by SEC before the Bombay High Court, the government has deliberately dilly-dallied on the amendments required to be made almost three years ago,” said GPCC president Girish Chodankar
PANAJI: Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) on Saturday has demanded that the Zilla Panchayat (ZP) elections scheduled on March 15 be postponed and the powers of reservation of wards be vested in Goa State Election Commission.
“Despite assurance by the BJP government on the floor of the House in 2017, frequent reminders by the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj and subsequent affidavit filed by SEC before the Bombay High Court, the government has deliberately dilly-dallied on the amendments required to be made almost three years ago,” said GPCC president Girish Chodankar stating that deciding on the date of ZP elections by the State government is not only contempt of court but also unconstitutional.
Chodankar pointed out that the SEC has clearly stated in its affidavit filed before the HC that all panchayat elections have to be conducted under its supervision, direction and control, from electoral roll preparation to declaration of results, as per Article 243K of the Constitution.
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“The affidavit was filed in a Public Interest Litigation filed by Mango Foundation before the Bombay HC at Panaji, challenging the powers of Directorate of Panchayats and Directorate of Municipal Administration for delimitation and reservation of wards. Based on a draft of ‘Model Panchayat and Gram Swaraj Act’, circulated by the Union ministry in a letter dated April 27, 2009, various states including Kerala, Maharashtra, and Karnataka have already amended their respective acts,” he said.
Chodankar said that on August 7, 2017, Parrikar had stated in his reply in the State Legislative Assembly that “When the file came to me, then it came to my mind that these things (limitations and reservation) cannot be done in a short period to do live in delimitation and reservation is difficult for government, to do in short period, as it leads to confusion, allegations, and someone goes to court. That is why I have clearly written on file that there is no need for the government to do it and election commission can do it.”
“Despite this, the BJP government has not amended both Panchayati Raj and Municipal acts till date with a clear intention to hijack the grassroot level governance by self-governing bodies in violation of the provisions of the Constitution of India. It is also clear that this has been done in order to manipulate the forthcoming ZP elections, and giving scope for challenging it in court which will be held illegal unless the powers of delimitation and reservation of wards are transferred to the SEC,” he said.
Chodankar has demanded that the order of conducting ZP elections be revoked and necessary amendments be made in the forthcoming Assembly session beginning on February 3 while announcing another date for ZP elections.