Punjab: Panchayat elections postponed at least till January

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Chandigarh, November 16: The Punjab government has decided to defer the panchayat elections. The government was set to notify the panchayat elections Friday and the code of conduct was to come into force. The panchayat elections in over 12,500 villages were to be held in mid-December. With today’s decision, the elections have been postponed at least till January.

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As per the Panchayati Raj Act, the term of Panchayats in Punjab comes to an end on January 16. The government is bound to conduct the elections by that time. Sources said the issue of panchayat elections were taken up in AICC president Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, PPCC president Sunil Jakhar and other Congress leaders on Thursday.

Jakhar had conveyed the feeling of several MLAs that the elections should be postponed as these would divide the cadre unnecessarily ahead of LS election. It is also learnt that the Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh wants to make a major announcement on Guru Nanak Dev’s Parkash Utsav being celebrated at state level in Sultanpur Lodhi on November 23. He wants to announce an extravaganza for the villages ahead of panchayat elections.

If the code of conduct comes into force tomorrow then he cannot make the announcement, hence the postponement. It is already the government versus the Congress party over the scheduling of panchayat elections in state. While several MLAs feel that the government should delay the elections , the government feels that the
elections should be held immediately.

The MLAs feel that the panchayat elections would divide the cadres ahead of crucial LS election, the government functionaries feel that after election, the government would have over 1 lakh elected members of the party in panchayats as there are over 12,500 villages in Punjab and each panchayat has 5-7 members.

“Then we have to appoint chairpersons of market committees. We should do this exercise before the LS election. Moreover, the term of panchayats expires on January 16,” said a functionary.

On the other hand, several party MLAs feel that the government should amend the Act and extend the term of the panchayats and the elections should only be held after LS elections.

Amid this difference in opinion, Rural Development Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa had met the CM soon after the latter returned from his Israel and Turkey trip earlier this month and both decided to hold the elections before December 15.

Source Indian Express