March 20, 2021 8:10:43 am
The Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) and six municipal councils will go to polls in Goa on Saturday. Elections to five municipal councils will be rescheduled by the State Election Commission (SEC) pursuant to directions of the Supreme Court that had, on March 12, held that reservations of wards for women and SC/ST candidates in these councils were faulty.
While local body polls are not contested on party symbols, political parties and MLAs had thrown their weight behind election candidates and floated panels for the local body polls. In the run up to the elections, political leaders across parties including chief minister Pramod Sawant had visited parts of the state for campaigning.
In the Zilla Panchayat polls held in December, the ruling BJP had bagged 32 of 49 seats while the Congress had won four. The local body poll results, most parties believe, will be a yardstick to measure the prospects of each party for the legislative assembly polls to be held in 2022.
The 30-member CCP being contested by 95 candidates is expected to be a contest mainly between a panel floated by Panaji MLA Atanasio Monserrate, who was among the ten MLAs who defected from Congress to BJP in 2019, and the Congress. The Congress on Friday reminded people that those who voted for him as a Congress candidate during assembly polls should remember his “betrayal” and not vote his candidates.
The local body polls in Goa were mired in litigation after candidates backed by the Congress and the Goa Forward Party moved court over faulty ward reservations by the Sawant-led government in Goa. The Supreme Court’s also found illegalities in ward reservation and came down heavily of the state government for appointing its law secretary as the SEC and asked the government to remedy the appointment by naming an independent person as the SEC.
Newly appointed SEC W V Ramanamurthy, a retired bureaucrat, on Friday declared the election process in five other municipal councils that were earlier also scheduled for Saturday as null and void.
On Saturday, bypolls will also be held in one ward of the Sanquelim Municipal Council and a Zilla Panchayat seat in Navelim in South Goa, the only poll that will be contested on party lines with BJP, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party in the fray. According to the SEC, 1,22,992 voters are expected to cast their vote on Saturday.
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