Less than a week after it deferred elections to 257 agriculture produce marketing committees, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government in Madhya Pradesh prevailed over the State Election Commission and postponed elections to five urban local bodies.
The Congress has called the move “undemocratic” and claimed that the BJP was scared to face the electorate before the Assembly polls, to be held by the year-end.
Election schedule for Anooppur Nagar Palika Parishad (Anooppur district) and Nagar Parishads in Sanchi (Raisen district), Narvar (Shivpuri district), Bhainsdehi (Betul district) and Churhat (Seedhi district) was announced by the SEC on Monday. It was to issue a notification for the polls Wednesday — elections and counting were scheduled for August 3 and 7, respectively.
However, the state government reportedly approached the SEC with a request to postpone the elections on the ground that the reservation of wards in these five bodies had not been published in the official gazette.
The reservation of wards for SC, ST and women in urban bodies is the responsibility of the state government under Section 29 of MP Nagarpalika Adhiniyam, 1961, and MP Nagarpalika (Anusuchit Jati, Janjati, Picchada Varg evam Mahilaonke liye Wardo Ka Aarakshan) Niyam, 1994.
SEC Commissioner R Parshuram told The Indian Express that it had no option but to postpone the elections as holding elections in the absence of gazette notification about reserved wards would not have been proper.
Calling the cancellation of elections undemocratic, former Union Minister and state Congress president Kamal Nath said: “The BJP government is scared of facing the electorate because it has done little for people. It’s worried that a loss might send a wrong message.”
Defending the decision to defer the polls due to irregularities in the reservation process, the BJP accused the Opposition of pointing fingers at constitutional and statutory bodies.