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SEC kept in dark over panchayat poll date

Date suggested was May 21; Srivastava says government’s announcement is contrary to central law and Constitution

21st April 2017, 07:21 Hrs
the goan I network
State Election Commissioner R K Srivastava on Thursday stated that the SEC was kept in dark by the State government about the date of panchayat polls, which was announced by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar a day ago.   
CM Parrikar announced that the panchayat polls will be held on June 25 -- a delay of almost a month from the schedule proposed by the SEC.   
Speaking to the media at SEC office at Altinho, Srivastava stated, “The Commission had given a proposal to the government in January for fixing a date. It is the government’s power to do so. The tenure of the panchayats is expiring on May 27. We said the elections should be held on the Sunday just preceding that date on May 21. How they (state government) have done it, we don’t know.”   
SEC Srivastava further informed that the state government’s announcement is ‘contrary to the central law and the constitution’.   
Within a few days, the SEC will file an affidavit before the High Court of Bombay at Goa in connection with a Public Interest Litigation filed over the declaration of the panchayat poll date, delimitation and reservation of wards. The affidavit will explain the nitty-gritties involved in the Panchayati Raj Act and the 73rd amendment to the Constitution.   
SEC Srivastava pointed out that the law is not in consonance with the Constitution. “The supervision, direction and control of the election of panchayats rests entirely in the state election commission as per the Constitution. But here the panchayat raj act gives some power to the government for deciding the date for holding the election. That power perhaps was executed and this section and provision is being challenged in the court,” he said.   
Meanwhile, a delegation of the Congress led by party president and Navelim MLA Luizinho Faleiro submitted a representation seeking the intervention of the State Election Commission to ensure that the panchayat elections are held in mid-May.   
Faleiro, while submitting the letter, condemned the governmental interference in the Commission’s domain and insisted that the Commission had been superceded. It was pointed out that the State government failed to consult with the SEC before declaring the date.   
“It is the State Election Commission’s prerogative to announce the date and to hold the elections. It is well-known that the elections were due in mid-may. They should be held before the expiry of the present five-year term. We are upset that somebody is undermining the laid law and Constitution,” Faleiro said.   
He termed the decision of the chief minister as ‘most autocratic and dictatorial’ and questioned the jurisdiction of the State government in deciding the matter of panchayat polls.   
The letter also sought to point out that the date announced by the government, June 25, will not be convenient for people owing to the onset of monsoons and the farming activities, which will pick up pace with the change in weather.

Political compulsions behind delay?
PANAJI: What prompted the decision of the state government to postpone the  panchayat elections from May to June despite the State  Election Commission proposing the date of May 21?  Analysts suggested that though, panchayat elections  are not held on party lines, the BJP could be wary of not only the  anti-incumbency wave but also a backlash against the manner in which it has  formed its government. Sources within the BJP also hinted that there are BJP MLAs who are  disgruntled after having been asked to ‘sacrifice’ in favour of the  alliance partners and the BJP wants that these MLAs regain their enthusiasm  before the panchayat polls. >> See pg 3

# Commission had given proposal to government in January for fixing date
# Had favoured elections on Sunday just preceding May 21
# Law not in consonance with the Constitution
# Panchayat Raj Act gives power to govt on deciding date for elections
# Supervision, direction & control of panchayat polls rests entirely with SEC