Deal for civic poll in November

Government, SEC agree to push elections by a month

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After days of wrangling, the government and the State Election Commission were on the same page on Tuesday, agreeing to hold elections to the local bodies in November, one month later than scheduled.

However, the final decision will be subject to the High Court verdict when the matter comes up for hearing on September 3.

Earlier at the cabinet briefing, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the government was for holding polls in a time-bound manner and in a single phase.

“There is a concerted campaign against the government that it wants to postpone the polls which is wrong,” he said.

When asked whether the elections would be held in the newly-created local bodies, he said, “we cannot go back on the new municipalities since these have been duly constituted. We will examine all aspects and after hearing the court’s view, take an appropriate decision. I don’t think holding polls in a time-bound manner is an impossible task.”

Meanwhile, the State Election Commissioner Mr Sasidharan Nair told DC that it would require more time if elections were to be held in 28 new municipalities and Kannur Corporation.

“Before holding polls in the new municipalities and the corporation, we will have to reconstitute block panchayats and district panchayats. The delimitation exercise of wards has to be completed in time. It may not be possible to complete the process if we stick to the October 1 schedule of polls,” he added.

When asked how much time the SEC would require to complete the process, he said, “since it is an emergency matter, if the polls are postponed by one month – from October to November – then the commission would get nearly two months for completing the delimitation exercise.”

Sources said that with the SEC and the government agreeing to hold the polls in November, the possibility of a positive verdict from the HC is high. In that case, the elections would be held sometime in November and the new governing councils would be in office by December 1.

When asked about reports that Industry Minister P. K. Kunhalikutty had summoned him to his chamber and issued a threat, the commissioner said, “no such thing has happened. I didn’t meet the minister in his chamber. At the meeting on Monday, the minister had expressed his anxiety on holding polls to the newly- constituted local bodies, while I apprised them of complying with my constitutional responsibility of having governing councils by November 1. The meeting was held in the presence of the chief minister who was also presiding over the deliberation. Both the government and the EC are constitutional bodies which have to discharge their responsibilities,” he said.

CM defends League: Mr Chandy said there was a campaign from some sections to isolate the Muslim League on the issue as if that party was responsible for everything. “All decisions have been taken by the UDF and the cabinet. The new panchayats and municipalities were created keeping in view the interests of the people. In a democratic system the government has to adhere to people’s wish. W even allowed taluks in places where it had been denied for 25 years,” he added.

He said there was massive participation and involvement of people in support of the new panchayats. “The people’s enthusiasm seen for panchayats and the positive circumstances for creation of municipalities seem to have unnerved certain sections,” he said referring indirectly to the LDF.

Earlier, Opposition Leader V.S. Achuthanandan alleged that the commissioner had been summoned by Mr Kunhalikutty and threatened. He said the UDF leaders were arm-twisting people holding constitutional positions.

In a statement, Mr Kunhalikutty refuted the allegations and said both the government and the commission had reached a consensus at the meeting on Monday.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
Next Story