Karnataka: BBMP, panchayat elections may be delayed over Covid | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: The elections of BBMP, 30 zilla panchayats and 223 taluk panchayats are likely to be deferred to next year because of the pandemic. The bypolls in April had raised infection concerns and officials want to avoid a situation like that.
However, the Supreme Court has asked Tamil Nadu to hold local body polls by September 15. Setting the deadline, it directed the TN election commission on Tuesday to conduct the exercise in nine new districts or face contempt action.
The five-year term of ZPs and TPs in Karnataka ended this month as elections due in May-June could not be held. Administrators have been appointed to these bodies. Rural development and panchayat raj (RDPR) minister KS Eswarappa said that the government wanted to tread cautiously and it had already requested the Karnataka State Election Commission to put off the polls till the Covid situation abated.
A section of experts believes the April bypolls was among the factors that led to the resurgence of the virus. “It is the prerogative of the election commission to conduct elections as per schedule, but we have requested it to postpone them till the atmosphere becomes conducive. The ZP and TP polls are the second largest after the assembly elections in terms of electorate participation and it takes a responsible approach to decide on the timing, given the fluctuating pandemic situation,” Eswarappa said.
LK Atheeq, principal secretary (RDPR), said the polls could be deferred till December. “The law mandates that elections should be conducted by an elected body before the expiry of its term. If the elections are nor conducted within the scheduled time frame, then they should be conducted within six months from the expiry date. Going by this, we have leeway till December, and the emerging situation will guide us to plan steps,” he said.
Besides ZP and TP polls, elections of 14 urban local bodies, including BBMP and nagara palikes of Hubballi-Dharwad, Belagavi, Kalaburgi, Vijayapura and 52 ULBs (city municipal corporations and town municipal corporations and pattana panchayats), which were formed in 2016, are due. This year, 34 new ULBs were formed and these are awaiting elections.
“For now, we are focusing on the preliminary work for the polls. While the priority is to hold them at the earliest, the process is being slowed since infection levels are still high in some districts,” said state election commissioner B Basavaraj. The processes of ward delimitation and reservation have been finalised in some districts, but the work on voter lists is pending in most districts. “The deputy commissioners of these districts have reported that they could not carry out the exercise because of the pandemic, and they have sought more time,” Basavaraj added.
As for BBMP polls, a case is pending in the Supreme Court. Things will take time even after the verdict. A panel headed by revenue principal secretary Manjunath Prasad is yet to identify the villages to be included into the city limits.
Pandemic’s shadow on bypolls too:
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Bypolls are due in assembly segments Sindagi and Hangal. JD(S) MLA MC Managuli represented Sindagi before he passed away in January. Hangal was represented by BJP’s CM Udasi, who died earlier this month. “We need to consider various factors, including a pending petition that has questioned the timing of the bypolls held in April and the Election Commission of India’s directive about scheduling of polls. The commission will take the final call,” said chief electoral officer Sanjiv Kumar.





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Sagar Biswas

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