Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh State Election Commission (SEC) on Tuesday cancelled the ongoing process for gram panchayat elections, a move which comes after a Supreme Court ruling and the state government’s stand that these polls should not be held without OBC reservation.
Voting was scheduled in January-February for the multi-phase elections to gram panchayats and the process of filing nominations for the first and second phases had started from December 13.
A notification for the cancellation of the gram panchayat elections was issued by the SEC after discussing all pros and cons in the matter, official sources said.
Earlier, the state assembly had passed a resolution stating that panchayat polls should not be held without reservation for OBC candidates.
Over a week ago, the Supreme Court had stayed the OBC reservation and ordered the SEC to convert these seats into general category constituencies before holding polls.
The Madhya Pradesh cabinet on Sunday decided to withdraw an ordinance related to panchayat polls. The state government had brought the ordinance last month to annul the process of delimitation and reservation of seats by rotation set in motion by the previous Congress dispensation in 2019.
On the basis of this ordinance, the panchayat election process was started as per the delimitation and reservation rotation of 2014.
“After the Supreme Court’s decision, the state cabinet decided to request the Governor to withdraw this ordinance (promulgated in November this year), Minister for Panchayat Mahendra Singh Sisodia told reporters on Tuesday.
He accused the opposition Congress of scuttling the poll process by repeatedly going to the Madhya Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court over the issue of gram panchayat elections.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is committed to provide reservation to the OBCs (in panchayats), Sisodia said.
Both Congress and the BJP have accused each other of obstructing the panchayat poll process.
While the BJP alleged the Congress approached the Supreme Court on the issue with an aim to deprive OBCs of quota benefits, the Congress claimed the ruling party was not following mandatory rotation and delimitation process related to panchayat elections.
On December 4, the SEC had announced that polling to elect representatives on 859 posts of district panchayats across 52 districts, 6,727 posts of 313 Janpad Panchayats, sarpanches of 22,581 village panchayats and 3,62,754 posts of panch members will be held in three phases – on January 6, January 28 and February 16.
The tenure of these panchayat bodies had ended in March 2020, but elections were delayed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The process of filing nominations for the first and second phases had started from December 13.