Wednesday, February 24, 2010

‘Hold Grama Panchayat Elections on Schedule’

The following was in a mail I received from a fellow SmartVote campaigner. I'm pasting it here to reach a wider audience.

My take:

1. State Election Commissions must be abolished. The same Central Election Commission which holds Parliamentary and Assembly elections should also hold the local bodies elections. Local body elections must be held every five years as regularly as the other two elections.

2. State governments should have no control whatsoever over Corporations/Municipalities/Panchayats. The relationship between State government and the Local bodies should be similar to the one between the Union government and State governments.

‘Hold Grama Panchayat Elections on Schedule’ - Demands Grama Panchayat Hakkottaya Andolana

Representatives of the Concerned for Working Children (CWC), Conveners of the Grama Panchayat Hakkottaya Andolana, met with Shri C.R. Chikkamath, State Election Commissioner on 17th February 2010.

We voiced our concern that an announcement regarding the schedule of the Gram Panchayat Elections in Karnataka had not been made to date and that there was the possibility that the State Government would try to delay the holding of the elections using similar strategies that have been employed in Gujarat.

To this the Commissioner assured us that he was doing everything in his powers to conduct elections to the Gram Panchayats in Karnataka and that planned to hold the elections between mid-March and mid-April so that it would not interfere with the National Census or the school exams, especially the SSLC and PUC. He also said that 25 days was a sufficient notice period to hold an election.

When asked about the monsoon, he said that would not be a factor to delay the elections and in any case he was scheduling the elections before the onset of the monsoons.

He said that the process of seat reservation was complete in the entire state and ward-wise voters’ lists were being prepared.

The Commissioner further stated that he had written to the Chief Secretary regarding the conducting of the elections and a series of meetings have been planned in the state machinery to conduct the elections. These meetings different regions of the State to assess the availability of will be completed by 24th of March and the Commission assured us that we could expect an announcement regarding the Gram Panchayat Elections before March 15th, 2010.

He further added that though reservations of the BBMP elections were with the State Government, reservations for the Gram Panchayats rested with the Commission itself.

With reference to the BBMP elections, he also mentioned that though he wanted to hold the BBMP elections in January, the State and other parties had dragged the elections to court and he was therefore not in a position to conduct the elections.

He regretted that the State Election Commission was dependant on the State Government to a large extent, such as funds and machinery and that he was pressing for more autonomy of the Commission, as in the case of Central Election Commission.

When we brought up the Supreme Court Judgment in the case of Kishansing Tomar v/s Municipal Corporation of the City of Ahmedabad of the constitutional duty of the Election Commission to hold the elections on schedule, he said that there was another Supreme Court order not to disturb teachers during exams and disrupt student’s academics.

He however, concluded by saying that the ground work was being done and that he was trying his best to conduct the elections as per schedule.

Nandana Reddy,
The Concerned for Working Children (CWC)
303/2, L.B. Shastri Nagar,
Vimanapura Post,
Bangalore - 560 017
# 91 - 80 - 25234611/25234270

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