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No panchayat polls in Telangana in near future?

No panchayat polls in Telangana in near future?

It appears the Congress government in Telangana is hesitating to conduct local body elections in the near future, apparently fearing a resurgence of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi and stiff competition from the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Though Telangana Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy has indicated that elections for rural local bodies, including gram panchayats, mandal parishads, and zilla parishads, would be held immediately after the completion of the Lok Sabha election process in June, it is now unlikely they will be held soon.

According to official sources, the elections for local bodies are unlikely to be held before August-September as BC reservations have yet to be finalized.

The term of gram panchayats in the state expired on February 1 this year, and the state government appointed special officers in their place. The term of the MPTCs and ZPTCs will end on July 3.

The elections were initially scheduled for January but were postponed due to last year’s Assembly elections, followed by the recent Lok Sabha polls in the state.

Currently, special officers are governing gram panchayats as the terms of elected sarpanches and ward members have ended.

Revanth Reddy is said to believe that completing these elections by the end of July would allow the government to refocus on governance and welfare initiatives.

However, Supreme Court orders mandate the state government to finalize BC reservations for local bodies before conducting elections.

Though the previous BRS government constituted the BC Commission to submit a report to finalize reservations for backward classes, sources said the commission required at least another two months to complete the process and submit its report.

Further complicating the matter, various organizations representing the BCs are demanding that the Congress implement its electoral promise of reserving 42 percent of seats in local bodies for them. Currently, BCs have 22 percent reservation in local bodies.

Additionally, they also want the Congress to sub-categorize reservations for castes under the BC category. The Panchayat Raj (PR) Act, 2018, mandates that reservations for gram panchayat elections should be in force for 10 years.

If Revanth Reddy wants to increase the reservations, the elections might be delayed as the PR Act would need to be amended and the government would have to gather fresh data on backward castes, which might delay the elections further. It would also exceed the 50 percent cap on reservations, which requires Parliament’s approval.

“Hence, the best option for the state government to conduct the local bodies elections immediately is to cap BC reservations at 25 percent, considering the existing reservations for SCs and STs in rural local bodies. Otherwise, the elections are unlikely to be completed before the end of this year,” a senior official in the State Election Commission observed.


Tags: Congress Revanth Reddy