PUDUCHERRY: The State Election Commission announced the conduct of elections to five Municipalities and 10 commune Panchayats in the Union Territory of Puducherry in three phases, on November 2, 7, and 13.
The revised schedule was made in compliance with the Madras High Court orders on October 5, said a release from State Election Commissioner Roy P Thomas on Fraiday. The filing of nominations will begin on October 11, 15, and 22 for the three phases, respectively, and the counting of votes will be taken up on November 17, he said.
The SEC has also allotted reservation of seats and offices in the municipalities and commune panchayats to SC, general category, and women through notifications issued on October 7. No reservation has been announced for Backward Classes (BC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) for the elections, after the government rescinded its notification in this regard. As per the reservation notification, Puducherry and Karaikal municipalities have been allocated for General Category (women), Oulgeret and Mahe municipalities for General Category and Yanam for Scheduled Caste. The SEC also announced reservation for the municipal wards of all five municipalities.
Meanwhile, the announcement has sparked a controversy. All political parties, including the ruling section, are opposed to conducting the election without granting reservation to BCs and STs as they feel it is undemocratic.
Opposition parties faulted the AINRC-BJP government for withdrawing the earlier notification, however, sources said it was rescinded to rectify the mistakes in the reservation and then to renotify reservation after correction. But, the SEC has unilaterally announced election without the reservation. When reservation to BCs and STs in local bodies were granted based on a court order in 2015, how can polls be held without it? asked R Siva, Leader of Opposition. Moreover, the reservation now announced is on based on 2001 Census and is not proper, said a ruling party MLA.
Speaker of the Territorial Assembly, Embalam R Selvam, has called for a meeting of all MLAs on Saturday to discuss the ‘irregularities’ by the SEC with regard to the conduct of polls. Meanwhile, sources said aggrieved persons from the BC community are gearing up to move the court against the withdrawal of reservation.