Race against time to hold PR polls
Even as Hyderabad High Court set January 10 as deadline for the conduct of the elections to the 12,751 village panchayats, Telangana state government and the State Election Commission SEC are struggling hard to resolve the series of contentious issues which include mainly the finalisation of the BC reservation for the post of Sarpanch and Ward members in the local bodies,
Hyderabad: Even as Hyderabad High Court set January 10 as deadline for the conduct of the elections to the 12,751 village panchayats, Telangana state government and the State Election Commission (SEC) are struggling hard to resolve the series of contentious issues which include mainly the finalisation of the BC reservation for the post of Sarpanch and Ward members in the local bodies, adoption of existing electoral rolls and filling of the Panchayat Secretaries in the newly-formed Panchayats in the state. The TS government had created 4,000 new panchayats as part of the re-organisation of the districts in 2016.
The major hurdle before the government and SEC is to address the finalisation of the BC reservation in the local bodies. In the united Andhra Pradesh, the then governments enforced 60.55 per cent reservation of which 34 per cent seats were provided to the backward classes alone. The recent Supreme Court verdict directed the states to implement reservation in the local bodies not exceeding 50 per cent.
Panchayat Raj officials maintained that it is a daunting task before the state government in reserving the local bodies for BCs, SCs and STs within the cap of 50 per cent reservation. The BC associations have already launched a struggle demanding the government provide reservation to the BCs in proportionate to their population. The government is planning to provide not more than 24 per cent reservation to BCs but the organisations were insisting 28 per cent since villages are dominated by BC communities in the T state.
Officials said that the district Collectors were entrusted with the responsibility of the finalisation of BC reservations, but the authorities have no clue on what basis it will be done since the BC census taken up by the government remained incomplete in many local bodies till date.
A senior official on the condition of anonymity said that “without resolving the BC issue, the conduct of the panachayat elections is ruled out before the deadline set by the high court. The only option before the government and SEC is to make a plea to the court for the deferment of the elections”.
SEC Chairman V Nagi Reddy is holding regular talks with State Panchayat Raj Secretary Vikas Raj on the progress in reserving the local bodies under BC quota and the issues pending in this regard. The adoption of the existing electoral rolls in the ensuing panchayat elections has also created hurdle in the wake of missing voters' names in the just-concluded state Assembly elections. Many voters lodged complaints with the Election Commission against the removal of their names from the voters list. The local panchayat authorities have already faced flak from the voters for not including their names in the voters list in the meetings.
The delay in the filling up of the Panchayat Secretaries in all the newly constituted panchayats was also a cause of a major concern for the conduct of the elections. The official process for elections will have to be taken up only by the Secretaries. In the absence of the secretaries, the government should make alternative arrangements in the panchayats. The ongoing process to fill more than 10,000 panchayat secretaries was put on hold after the court directed the government to stop the appointments until further orders are issued. A group of job aspirants approached the court against the government alleging that discrepancies took place in the selection process.
Officials said that state government is making all-out efforts to complete the election process before the end of 2018-19 financial year. If the government fails, the Centre will not release development funds to the local bodies in the next financial year. Interestingly, KCR’s dispensation will be busy with elections in the whole of 2019. The ruling TRS will have to face Cooperative Society, Municipal and Lok Sabha elections also in the near future.