Berhampur: As many as 36 women will be elected to Ganjam Zilla Parishad which is of immense political significance in the threetier panchayat elections.
The election allows candidates to contest as zone members for the Zilla Parishad in their respective party symbols. Ganjam has 69 Zilla Parishad zones — the highest in the state.
However, the post of chairperson has been reserved for unreserved or general category women 24 years after the formation of Zilla Parishad in the district. This has been clarified in the government notification published for 2022 election.
The publication of the notification has sent the chatters abuzz as to which party will project whom for the post of chairperson in this election. The hectic parley among various political parties has heated up the politics in the district.
Sources said the new Zilla Parishad was formed four decades after the abolition of Ganjam Zilla Board. This happened when Biju Patnaik led Janata Dal ruled the state in 1997.
In the first election, the post of chairperson of Zilla Parishad was reserved for women.
Renubala Pradhan, daughter of late CPI leader Goura Chandra Pradhan, was elected to the Zilla Parishad as a Janata Dal candidate from one of the zones under Digapahandi Assembly segment.
The party lacked majority to make its candidate as the chairperson of Zilla Parishad. However, the late CPI leader tried to unite all parties to make his daughter the chairperson of Ganjam Zilla Parishad.
He succeeded in his efforts in forming a political coalition comprising elected members representing the Communist, BJP and Janata Dal in the district.
The late CPI leader also succeeded in bringing Narayan Sahu, a former MLA of Khallikote, who had won as an independent under the coalition.
As per the arrangement, Renubala was appointed as the chairperson while Dharakote queen Shanti Devi representing the BJP was appointed as the deputy chairperson of the Zilla Parishad.
The coalition completed its fiveyear tenure in the Zilla Parishad. Later, in 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2017 elections, male candidates representing the ruling Biju Janata Dal were appointed as the chairperson of Zilla Parishad.
Starting from 1997, 24 years later the post of the chairperson of the Zilla Parishad has been reserved for women. The post of chairperson had been reserved for candidates of general category in 2017 elections.
But in an aberration, Subhash Chandra Behera who won from zone no-19 on a BJD ticket was made the chairperson of the Zilla Parishad. He had to resign from the post after he was fielded by the party in 2019 general elections and won as an MLA from Chhatrapur Assembly segment.
A maximum of 64 candidates were elected from the BJD from 69 zones in the 2017 panachayat election. Only four from BJP and one from Congress were elected to the Zilla Parishad.
The ruling BJD played all tricks to humiliate the opposition but two from the BJP won from Rangeilunda and Kukudakhandi block belying all speculations.