Even as the political parties called for a boycott of urban local body (ULB) polls in Western Odisha demanding establishment of a permanent bench of the Orissa High Court, the State Election Commission (SEC) on Saturday put its foot down saying there is no question of postponing the elections.
The SEC move, though, came much before all political parties resolved to go in for the boycott of polls. It was based on the joint report submitted by the Collector and the SP of Sambalpur on the law and order situation in the district in view of the indefinite stir announced by the various bar associations beginning August 20 on the same issue.
The joint report had suggested that the stir will affect the monsoon session of the State Assembly as well as the poll process in the region. The District Magistrate also held discussions with the bar associations, but could not resolve the issue.
After reviewing the situation, the State Election Commission, however, decided that the polls will not be postponed under any circumstances in the region. The election process, it said, will go ahead as notified.
Interestingly, a boycott will only end up hurting the prospects of the political parties in the polls. Going by Section 11(5) of the Odisha Municipal Act, 1950, if no candidate from the reserved categories files nominations, re-election will not be held. Instead, the State Government will have the authority to nominate persons of its choice to the reserved seats.
On the other hand, re-election will be announced for un-reserved category seats if nominations are not filed.
The reserved category comprises candidates from Scheduled Castes, Schedule Tribes, women and Other Backward Classes and accounts for about 65 per cent of the seats in municipal bodies.
Fifty per cent of the seats are reserved for women candidates. This means, in the event of a boycott by the political parties, the Government will be in a position to nominate candidates for about 65 per cent seats.
As per the ULB poll notification, nominations will be accepted from August 20 to August 24 and scrutiny held on August 27. The ULB polls are scheduled to be held in 58 notified area councils, 32 municipalities and one municipal corporation on September 19.