Debating India


Stage set for civic polls after 37 years

Tuesday 7 June 2005, by NAIR*Rajesh

Poll commission ready, awaits Government word

- Seats for which direct elections are to be held: Municipality: Chairman - 5 Councillors - 122

- Panchayat: Council members - 98 Ward members - 815 Village panchayat presidents - 98

PONDICHERRY: The State Election Commission (SEC) here is all set to conduct the panchayat elections in Pondicherry, after a gap of 37 years.

The Commission recently asked the administration to allot additional police forces and revenue officers for conducting the elections, sources in the SEC said. "We have completed all the preparatory works. Even returning officers have been appointed. Once the Government concedes our request, the dates will be announced," said a source.

The SEC estimates that around 1,200 polling booths will be required.

This calls for a sufficient number of policemen to be deployed to maintain law and order during the polling.

"Whether the election will be held in one phase or two phase depends on the availability of policemen," said an SEC official.

Though the SEC has not announced any dates, political parties have begun to gear up for the polls, with walls being booked for campaign posters and slogans.

The last election to the local bodies in the Union Territorywas held in 1968.

One of the main reasons for not conducting the election was the legal battle over the issue of reservation for Backward Classes. The High Court ruled that there cannot be any reservation. Other hurdles in the way of conducting the elections on the basis of 73rd and 74th amendment to the Constitution were removed by making necessary changes in the Pondicherry Municipalities Act, 1973 and the Pondicherry Village and Commune Panchayats Act, 1973.

After the amendments, the elections will be held on party basis, except for the posts of village panchayat president and ward members. They will be directly elected.

The commune panchayat council members and chairman will be elected directly and the vice-chairman through indirect elections.

For municipalities, the councillors and chairman will be directly elected.

The vice-chairman would be elected by indirect election.

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