Bhubaneswar: The BJP and the Congress have lashed out at the government for dillydallying on elections to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).
Although the tenure of 93 ULBs has ended elections have not been held as the government has moved the Supreme Court on reserving seats in ULBs.
BJP leader Pradip Purohit alleged that the BJD government is intentionally delaying elections as it fears defeat like in the case of rural polls. Now the government will appoint loyal officers to key posts to manipulate and win the election, he said.
Senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra also blasted the government for delaying ULB polls.
“Like Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, ULB polls should be conducted every five years. If there are any anomalies in the law, the government should have corrected it,” Mishra said.
The BJD rejected the Opposition charges and said the delay was due to court cases. “We have lost some seats in urban areas. But we will take care of it in the urban elections,” said Rural Development Minister Susanta Singh.
Housing and Urban Development Minister Pratap Jena refused to disclose the government’s roadmap on Odisha municipal elections. He said talks are being held on the issue.
Sources in the government said a Bill will be introduced in the coming session of the Assembly to amend the Odisha Municipal Act and the Odisha Municipal Corporation Act to enable 50 per cent reservation of seats in ULBs.
Meanwhile, the State Election Commission (SEC) has also instructed the Housing and Urban Development Department to furnish details regarding delimitation of wards and reservation of seats in municipal areas.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Orissa High Court alleging that the reservation of seats was more than 50 per cent in the 2012 panchayat elections, 2013 ULB elections and the 2017 panchayat elections, which was a gross violation of the 2010 SC order.
The High Court had asked the state government not to exceed the 50 per cent reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) in non-scheduled areas during ULB polls. Challenging the order, the state had moved Supreme Court, which rejected its appeal and directed it to abide by the High Court directive.