BENGALURU: Amidst stiff opposition from Congress members, who staged a walkout, the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Bill was passed in the Assembly on Thursday. The JDS members, however, remained present in the House. The Bill, which was tabled on Tuesday, came for discussion on Thursday.
The piece of legislation allows for the constitution of a Delimitation Commission which will have powers to demarcate boundaries of wards or constituencies of gram, taluk and zilla panchayats. It will also have the power to fix the total number of members and give other recommendations.
At present, the delimitation exercise is carried out by the Karnataka State election Commission (SEC).
Congress members charged that the move is only to delay the taluk and zilla panchayat polls and said the ruling BJP does not have the courage to face the polls.
Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister KS Eshwarappa told the House that the SEC had carried out the delimitation process and more than 2,600 objections had been received. The delimitation process was being done by the State Government before the powers were given to the SEC. The Commission will carry out the exercise scientifically, based on data and population, he argued.
Initially, though the Congress members demanded that the Bill be taken up for discussion on Friday, as their colleagues were at party leader Oscar Fernandes’ funeral, Eshwarappa said it had to be passed in the Assembly on Thursday itself and placed in the Council on Friday. “We have to submit it before the High Court on Monday,” he said.
‘BJP taking control of SEC unfortunate’
Opposition leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah said he could not see any good intentions behind introducing the Bill. “The government is bringing this to make rules that will help it. The BJP does not believe in delivering social justice.
Our party will oppose it and we will walk out.” Senior Congress leader H K Patil said when they were in power, they had entrusted the task of delimitation to the SEC. Now, the BJP goverment is taking control, which is unfortunate.
State Govt sidelining SEC: Priyank
Chittapur Congress MLA Priyank Kharge said by bringing the Bill, the State Government is sidelining the SEC. “Does it mean the SEC is not capable of carrying out delimitation?” the former minister asked.