Faced with the possibility of local body polls that were due, being announced after the Supreme Court ordered holding such elections in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday said he has instructed the Law Department and the Advocate General to study the full text of the order, as it would be applicable to the State too.
The Supreme Court today directed the Madhya Pradesh State Election Commission (SEC) to issue a poll programme for local bodies within two weeks.
The apex court said the ongoing activity of delimitation or formation of the ward cannot be a legitimate ground to be set forth by any authority to not discharge its Constitutional obligation in notifying the election programme at the opportune time and to ensure that the elected body is installed before the expiry of the five-year term of the outgoing body.
Following the order by the apex court, the BJP government in Karnataka is bracing up for the possibility of elections being announced in the next two weeks for zilla and taluk panchayats and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).
”We have not received the copy of the Supreme Court order. We will follow whatever decision the Election Commission takes based on the Supreme Court order. The Supreme Court order will apply to all States and local bodies. We will discuss it with the State Election Commission and act accordingly,” Bommai said in New Delhi.
The zilla and taluk panchayats elections that were due in May-June 2021 were not held, as the State government constituted a delimitation commission to redraw panchayat boundaries, subsequently the Supreme Court said OBC reservation in local bodies should be provided after passing three-pronged test criteria.
In the case of the BBMP, the civic body has not had an elected council since 2020 and is being governed by senior IAS officers as its Administrator and Chief Commissioner.
Elections to the city civic body were due in 2020, but the government started a delimitation process to increase the number of wards under BBMP from 198 to 243. In December 2020, the SC stayed the elections and the case is still pending.
The Chief Minister maintained that the BJP is ready for all elections.
Reacting to Congress leaders questioning BJP’s readiness to face the local body polls, he said, ”Let Congress leaders mind the affairs of their own party. They are fighting among themselves at public meetings. We have toured the entire State and are prepared for Zilla and Taluk Panchayat polls. We have held meetings to prepare for BBMP elections too. We will study the Supreme Court order and take an appropriate decision.”
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, Revenue Minister R Ashoka said he would discuss with the Chief Minister the ramification of the SC order, and the government is ready to hold elections, and thereby obey the court order.
“The court has said the elections have to be held for all local bodies where polling is pending. It has also made it clear that the number of wards should be the same as the last election,” he said.