Karnataka govt broke rule in ZP,TP polls?

Row over quota for top posts could have been avoided if elections were held on new Act.

BENGALURU: Did the state government violate the Constitution by holding elections to taluk and zilla panchayats as per the old Act?

The answer, evidently, seems to be yes according to some senior Congress leaders who felt that the current controversy over reservation system for posts of president and vice-president of zilla and taluk panchayats could have been avoided had the government held the polls as per new Act.

To make panchayat raj system fool-proof, a high level committee headed by former speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar had recommended notification of reservation for posts of president and vice-president on the basis of census report in each constituency as done in the case of reservation of seats.

Introduction of the quota system for such posts ought to be the prerogative of an autonomous agency like State Election Commission with no room for a role of the state government. If this system were followed, voters had a choice to elect their candidates belonging to a particular caste and thus eligible to occupy such top posts.

On draft publication of quota, 15 days time should have been given to invite objections from people concerned. For any reservation system, the census report must form the base and not political considerations.

By not following such procedures, the government has invited the wrath of people from all quarters for reportedly fixing reservation according to its convenience and yielded to political pressure.

Sources said legislators, who were interested in bringing reforms in panchayat raj system as introduced by Rajiv Gandhi, got the amendment bill passed in both Houses in November 2015. Subsequently, the bill got the Governor's nod on December 15, 2015. In the meantime, SEC announced elections to ZP/TP in two phases on February 13 and 20. Instead of giving effect to new orders immediately, the government got it approved in cabinet only on February 25, a delay of almost two months after obtaining governor's assent.

The government reportedly came up with an excuse that it would further delay elections to local bodies in case it embarked on reorganization of constituencies and therefore held polls in line with the old Act.

Rural development and panchayat raj minister H.K. Patil did not take calls and all attempts to quiz him on the come on phone to give his reaction.

Anti-Siddaramaiah chorus gets louder in Congress
On the eve of Ugadi, the beginning of the new year as per the Hindu calendar, several Congress legislators and leaders were closeted at senior leader, Mallikarjun Kharge’s house to take stock of the political situation in the state. Those present at the meeting included party MLC Veeranna Mattikatti, Tumakuru MP and Vokkaliga leader, S.P. Muddu Hanume Gowda, Former Mysuru MP and Kuruba leader H. Vishwanath and Chamarajnagar MP A. Dhruvanarayan.

Emerging from the meeting, Mr Vishwanath launched a scathing attack on Siddaramaiah cabinet and said, “Some ministers have ears but have turned non-responsive. Many ministers have eyes but have lost sensitivity. I feel a large number of ministers should go out and new faces should come in. Many ministers have failed to be effective."

The meeting comes at a time when Mr Siddaramaiah is making desperate attempts to win the hearts of ministers and legislators by accommodating their supporters in various boards and corporations.

A leader who was present in the meeting told Deccan Chronicle that the meeting took serious note of the recent, legislators’ dinner meeting and suspected that Mr Siddaramaiah was behind the meeting. They felt it would bring a bad name to the party. Mr Kharge, after listening to everyone, reportedly refused to intervene in state affairs.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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