Ahead of the all party meeting convened by the state election commission on Monday, one thing is crystal clear – the ruling BJD is in a hurry to hold the elections despite the spiraling Covid graph and the protests by tribals and Other Backward Caste over reservation of seats.
Opposition political circles here point out at the ‘one scheme a day to keep the Opposition at bay’ while chiding at the plethora of schemes and doles dished out over the last one month. It clearly shows that ‘come what may the BJD government wants elections – both panchayat and urban local bodies.
Reliable sources said notification for the panchayat elections in the state will be done within the next two to three days.
It is a foregone conclusion as the spread of Covid, the risks involved, etc take a backseat.
The BJP cannot seek deferment of elections, given the Election Commission of India nod to polls in five states, Congress has been objecting but it doesn’t want to be seen as ‘shying away’ from facing the electorate, observed political analysts here.
Another interesting talk in the BJP circles here is that the Supreme Court is to hear a matter relating to reservation for OBC’s on 17 January and this may lead to postponement of the panchayat elections till the triple test is done and reservation finalised.
At the same time, it is also being speculated that BJD wants to pre-empt this and is therefore keen to get the ‘notification and election process’ done before 17 January.
Quite a few doctors and public health experts said ‘ we have to keep our fingers crossed at the risks involved irrespective of the guidelines– like campaign curfew, no rallies, etc.
Look what happened at Puri Jagannath Temple on Saturday, all restrictions were blown away as thousands congregated and barged their way with the enforcement agencies vastly outnumbered, they added. Why on earth can the elections not be deferred to March, they wonder, noting ‘ every life is precious.
Panchayat polls are hugely different from Assembly elections in terms of the number of contestants as well as the near-impossible task of enforcing guidelines in every village.