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Oppn in Odisha seek deferment of panchayat polls as SEC promises ‘COVID-free’ elections

Bhubaneswar, Jan 10 (PTI) All opposition parties in Odisha on Monday strongly opposed the decision of the State Election Commission (SEC) and the BJD government to hold panchayat elections amid the relentless rise in COVID-19 cases.

At an all-party meeting here, opposition parties have expressed concern over the prevailing COVID-19 situation and sought the postponement of panchayat elections by two to three months, some of the leaders who attended the session said.

“There won’t be an apocalypse if the polls get postponed by two-three more months. People’s health and well-being are of supreme concern and that should be protected. As the chief minister (Naveen Patnaik) often says every life is precious to him, his government should act accordingly,” BJP leader and party’s chief whip in the Assembly, Mohan Maji, stated.

He also claimed that “irregularities in reservation of panchayat body seats for OBCs and tribals can be corrected” over the next two months.

State Election Commissioner A P Padhi, however, said that he would soon issue COVID-related guidelines for conducting the elections, scheduled to be held sometime in February.

“Different political parties aired their views on the panchayat poll schedule at the meeting. The SEC has decided to issue specific guidelines to conduct COVID-19 free elections, in line with the norms laid down by the Election Commission of India,” Padhi explained.

The ruling BJD maintained that people should not be denied their constitutional rights.

Amar Patnaik, the ruling party MP, said, “The tenure of panchayat bodies will end in March this year. People should not be denied their constitutional rights by postponing the polls. Elections should be held amid strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.” Congress leader Ganeswar Behera said his party has presented fact-based arguments before the SEC to seek deferment of elections, and the poll body should consider them.

Behera, quite like Maji, claimed that OBCs and tribals do not get adequate representation in panchayat bodies, and proper provisions should be made for them before the elections are held.

Left parties, too, shared similar sentiments.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Vikas Parishad, a voluntary organisation, has moved the Orissa high Court seeking deferment of elections.

It prayed that polls should be conducted only after adequate provisions are made for OBC representation in the panchayat bodies. PTI AAM RMS RMS

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: The Print

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