Amid the pandemic’s rising second wave, Karnataka is contemplating postponing elections the to zilla panchayats (ZPs) and taluk panchayats (TPs).
Rural development and panchayat raj minister, K.S. Eshwarappa, told reporters on Monday that he strongly feels that there is a consensus among ‘everyone’ including the department officials on postponing the polls to ZPs and TPs owing to a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases.
“More than 3.5 crore people will have to participate in these elections, therefore, I strongly feel that it is necessary to postpone these elections for a while,” he said.
He added that the formal decision was yet to be taken in this issue.
“We will discuss this (postponing elections) in the next cabinet meet and the decision will then be conveyed to the Karnataka State Election Commission (KSEC),” Eshwarappa said.
The minister added that even opposition party leaders have suggested to him to postpone these elections for the time being.
The last such elections were held to 30 ZPs and 175 TPs in 2016 and these local bodies terms were coming to end May this year.
Karnataka had succeeded in postponing elections to gram panchayats by about 5-6 months last year following the pandemic outbreak.
The KSEC had to conduct elections to gram panchayats after some people filed a Public Interest Litigation before the court who had urged the KSEC to hold elections, which it complied.
Replying to a question, Eshwarappa maintained that the pandemic situation during Gram Panchayat elections that were held last year and present pandemic situation is entirely different.
“Last year a number of positive cases were less compared to the present situation. It might be even worse. Last time Covid had not spread in rural areas but this time, the deadly virus has raised its ugly head even in rural areas. Therefore, it is better to postpone this elections for a while. It is not that the BJP is fearing any loss. We know to win elections,” he explained.
On its part, the KSEC has already finished the task of delimitation of TP and ZP constituencies. Accordingly, the number of ZP seats in Karnataka has increased by about 100, taking the total to 1,190 while TP seats were reduced by around 600 to 3,273. District election offices are engaged in preparing the voters’ list.
The KSEC just needs about two week’s time to fix and announce area-wise reservation of constituencies before the official notification about elections, the KSEC official told IANS.
When asked about the government enforcing complete lockdown or partial lockdown as a measure to curb the Covid rise, the RDPR minister asserted that there was no need for tough measures like lockdowns are required instead what is needed is people’s co-operation in following Covid safety protocols like wearing masks.
“Wearing masks and maintaining social distance is of utmost imprtance, which we have stopped following for the last couple of weeks, therefore, we are in this situation,” he said.