Ahead of the Panchayat polls, politics has now heated up in Odisha with major opposition parties like BJP and Congress demanding postponement of the polls in view of the current Covid-19 situation in the State. The ruling party BJD, on the other hand, has demanded the election in due time with covid restrictions.
The Opposition parties have demanded postponement of the Panchayat polls for at least three months before the State Election Commission during a high-level meeting held on Monday.
The main opposition party BJP has proposed to review the ST and OBC reservations before the election process starts. Senior BJP leader and Chief whip of the Opposition party Mohan Majhi demanded to resolve the issue of OBC reservation before the poll in order to ensure their constitutional rights are restored.
Mohan reiterated 9-point proposals including OBC reservations before the State Election Commissioner (SEC). Covid infections will be in its peak during expected panchayat poll, alleges BJP Leader Mohan Majhi.
Congress has also demanded to defer the Panchayat poll for at least 2-3 months in view of Covid situation. Quoting CM Naveen Pattnaik, senior congress leader Ganeshwar Behera said, “Safety of Life is the first, elections can be conducted after the peak of 3rd wave covid and Omicron is passed.”
Behera further said his party had also stated that Tribals and other backwards classes are miffed with the denial of adequate reservations and are staging protests in different parts of the State. “We believe it will not be appropriate to hold the polls without giving them justice,” he added.
On the other hand, senior BJD leader, Amar Patnaik said, “The tenure of the elected representatives of all rural bodies across the State will end in March. BJD wants that the Constitutional right of voters to exercise their franchise is not denied and the polls are held on time. We have assured to extend our support to the Election Commission in conducting the polls while enforcing the Covid-19 protocols strictly.”
After all party meeting for Panchayat Elections in Odisha, the State Election Commissioner (SEC) Aditya Prasad Padhi has said the guidelines for conducting the upcoming polls will be issued very soon. The Commission has decided to issue guideline based on the recent guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for the conduct of polls in few States,” said Padhi. He said that the focus of the State Election Commission will be on conduct of the Panchayat polls in a free and fair manner with strict compliance of Covid protocols.
In a related development, Bharatiya Vikas Parishad Organisation moved to the Orissa High Court seeking deferment of the Panchayat Elections in Odisha citing non provision for OBC reservation and rising Covid-19 cases.
However, the State Election Commission has called on Governor Ganeshi Lal and briefed him regarding the preparations for the upcoming Panchayat Elections. The SEC has also met police DG to discuss regarding the security during poll in the state. The notification for the election may come tomorrow according to sources. About 2 crores of voters in Odisha will elect their representatives in the three-tier Panchayat elections this year.