The State Election Commission in Tripura has deferred polls to urban local bodies till February 27, 2021, citing the Covid-19 pandemic. The state has 20 local administrative bodies, including six urban panchayats, one municipal corporation and 13 municipal councils.
The current tenures of these local bodies are to expire between December 17 and 20. According to municipal guidelines, all the local bodies would be deemed dissolved on the date of expiry of their tenures, unless they already are.
“The State Election Commission has deferred the general election to municipalities of the state of Tripura to 27th February, 2021…it is not possible to hold the general elections to the said Urban Local Bodies, before the expiry of the period of five years…the state government hereby specifies the following functionaries as Administrators, for the corresponding Urban Local Bodies…,” read a notification issued by Urban Development Secretary Kiran Gitte.
West Tripura District Magistrate Sailesh Kumar Yadav would take charge of the Agartala Municipal Corporation (AMC) from December 20, while sub-divisional magistrates in their respective areas would assume the role of administrator of other urban local bodies once their tenures end.
By-elections to 14 municipal bodies were held in October 2018. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which couldn’t wrest a single local body in the last civic elections in 2015, swept the bypolls, bagging 99.37 per cent of seats. The lone poll-bound seat for the Panisagar municipal body of North Tripura district landed in CPI(M)’s kitty.
Earlier this year, Tripura deferred the general elections to the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District C Council (TTAADC), citing the pandemic. The tribal council is now being governed by an administrator appointed by Governor RK Bais.
Reacting to the postponement of the local body elections, CPI(M) leader Pabitra Kar said the BJP has lost credibility and is afraid to contest the polls. “We have such polls being held recently in Bihar, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, among other states. However, the BJP doesn’t have the courage to contest the polls in Tripura and have, hence, deferred them on flimsy grounds,” Kar said.
State Congress vice president Tapas Dey said that the ruling party fears defeat due to rising discontent in the state and the country over their failed poll promises and anti-people policies. He claimed the move to defer the ADC and civic polls is nothing but an acknowledgement of the BJP’s diminishing support.
However, state BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya said his party would wait for the revised poll dates to be announced before commenting on its prospects. Defending the move, he said the State Election Commission deferred the elections after taking stock of the prevailing situation vis-à-vis the pandemic.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines