india

Political parties against holding local body polls

Congress-led SDPA has called for a bandh from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. today

As political parties close ranks in their opposition to the conduct of the local body elections in its present form and schedule, the Congress-led Secular Democratic Progressive Alliance (SDPA) called for a dawn-to-dusk bandh on Monday seeking restoration of reservation for Backward Classes (BC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) in civic bodies.

The State Election Commission (SEC) had, on the intervention of the Madras High Court in a petition, rescinded its 2019 poll notification order that earmarked constituencies for BC and ST sections by way of rectification of anomalies and notified afresh the conduct of elections in three phases on November 2, 7 and 13.

After an urgent meeting of constituents at the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) office, the SDPA, comprising parties such as Congress, DMK, VCK, Left parties and the MDMK, issued the call for a bandh from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The meeting, chaired by PCC president A V Subramanian, passed a resolution calling for the bandh and flayed the “bungling” of the SEC in rescinding the reservation for BCs and STs in municipalities, commune panchayats and wards.

The SDPA squarely blamed the NDA government headed by Chief Minister N. Rangasamy for plunging the whole exercise in confusion and demanded the replacement of the SEC.

Meanwhile, the BJP in Puducherry demanded the postponement of the local body elections by at least two months to accommodate all-party consultation and avoid the exercise clashing with the northeast monsoon and the festive season. Addressing newsmen, V. Saminathan, BJP president, said the SEC should have held consultation with political parties and taken their views before finalising the polling schedule.

He urged the SEC to reconsider the schedule as Puducherry was set to celebrate 20 festivals in as many days, including Liberation Day (November 1) and the All Soul’s Day (November 2) when Christians offer prayers to the departed. The BJP leader called for deferring the polls by two months as it would be cumbersome to go ahead within just 20 days of filing of nominations. Moreover, as the local body elections required electors to cast three votes, sufficient awareness had to be created prior to the polls. He sought the Lt. Governor’s intervention in the matter.

AIADMK leader Vaiyyapuri Manikandan also took exception to the “anomaly” in the revised poll notification that deprived BCs and STs of due representation in political power at the grassroots.

He urged the Lt. Governor to set right this social injustice and restore BC and ST representation. On Saturday, an all-party delegation had called on Lt. Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan with the demand to postpone the local body polls. The delegation said the decision to conduct the poll without reservation for BCs and STs was unconstitutional and also expressed their objection to the schedule that coincided with the monsoon and festive season. They said if the polls were pushed through overlooking these concerns, the parties would be compelled to boycott them.

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