June 24, 2021 1:05:13 am
The state cabinet Wednesday said it would be difficult to hold byelections on the vacated Other Backward Class (OBC) seats in the wake of the newly found cases of Delta Plus variant and decided the government will officially request the State Election Commission (SEC) to defer the Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti bypolls.
The SEC had Tuesday announced the dates for byelections in five Zilla Parishads and 33 Panchayat Samitis, seats in which were rendered vacant following the Supreme Court’s March 4 order quashing OBC reservation in local bodies.
According to sources, the issue was raised in the state Cabinet by NCP minister Chhagan Bhujbal and a few others. “It will be difficult to hold the byelections in the wake of the Covid’s newly found Delta Plus variant in the state. The Centre has categorised it as a ‘variant of concern’ and has asked the state to take up immediate steps for its containment,” a cabinet minister said.
The minister further said the state government had deferred the gram panchayat polls for almost six months and the cooperative societies elections for almost a year. “The government has also decided to hold the Monsoon Session of state Legislature for only two days. The Covid situation may deteriorate further if the byelections are held,” the minister added.
Another minister said Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte will officially communicate to the SEC the request to postpone the local bodies byelections further on the grounds of the Delta Plus variant of Covid-19 in Maharashtra.
The SEC’s move of announcing the byelections on the OBC seats, which were rendered vacant after an SC order, through the general category had not gone down well with the OBC community and its leaders, including Bhujbal. “The polls in Maharashtra should be postponed till OBC reservation is restored. Any haste to conduct elections would be an injustice to the OBC community,” Bhujbal said.
The bypolls for Dhule, Nandurbar, Washim, Akola and Nagpur Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti seats are scheduled to be held on July 19.
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