PANAJI: The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) on Thursday decided not to contest upcoming Zilla Panchayat (ZP) elections on party symbol. However, the party will extend support to its members and workers contesting the elections as independents.
Speaking to reporters after the CLP meeting held in the Congress office, here, Leader of the Opposition Digambar Kamat said that the decision not to contest the ZP polls was taken due to delay by the State government in taking policy decision over reservation of ZP constituencies to different categories. He alleged that the government had deliberately delayed reservation of seats and there was no level playing field in the elections.
However, the Congress party will support its members and supporters contesting ZP elections as independent candidates. "We will back our supporters contesting the elections and rally behind them," he said.
Accusing the State government for reserving ZP constituencies as per its choice, the Leader of the Opposition recalled that the then Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar had stated in the Legislative Assembly that the government would amend the Act and hand over the process of delimitation and reservation of panchayats, ZPs and municipal councils to the State Election Commission (SEC) so as to avoid allegations.
Kamat further pointed out that Panchayat Minister Mauvin Godinho was stating that the file for reservation of ZP constituencies had been already referred to the SEC, while, the latter was claiming that the office of SEC was yet To receive the file.
It may be recalled that in 2015 ZP polls, the Congress party had also decided not to contest the elections on party symbol and backed its members and workers who were in the fray as independents. But in two by-elections held in 2017, the Congress fielded its candidates.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that the office of ESC received the file of reservation of ZP constituencies at 4 pm on Thursday. However, the SEC officials declined to comment stating that the SEC would announce the poll schedule on Friday morning.
The ZP elections are fixed on march 22.