Supreme Court passes order
The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Andhra Pradesh government to conduct elections to urban local bodies and Panchayat Raj institutions on the basis of existing 60.55 per cent quota to Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
A Bench comprising Justices P Sathasivam and J.S. Khehar passed the order on a petition filed by the State government and others challenging the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court directing the authorities to hold the polls by fixing 50 per cent reservation for various sections.
The term of urban local bodies ended in September 2010 and that of Panchayat Raj institutions (PRIs) in July 2011. Since then, they have been under the rule of special officers in the absence of elected councils.
The Centre had stopped the release of statutory grants to the tune of Rs.1,500 crore to these PRIs due to non-conduct of elections.
Besides the State government, the appeal against the High Court order was filed by Andhra Pradesh Most Backward Classes Committee and social activist P Vinay Kumar.
A petition was filed in the High Court seeking conduct of elections to the PRIs, but the government said it had to first finalise the reservations (for various sections) as per the 2011 census.
Opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh have been accusing the Congress government of dragging its feet over conducting elections.
Telugu Desam Party and the Lok Satta Party welcomed the apex court’s order and wanted the government to conduct elections to the local bodies immediately.
“There has been no development in the local bodies in the last three years and they are crying for even basic infrastructure. The so-called special officers have totally neglected the development of local bodies,” Telugu Desam senior legislator Gali Muddukrishnama Naidu said in Hyderabad.
He alleged that the Congress government was not ready to conduct elections fearing a negative political fallout.
But the Congress feels that it is the right time to prove its strength, especially after the “good show” in the recent elections to primary cooperative societies. “It’s the right time for us to prove our strength even in the local bodies in the run-up to the Assembly elections next year,” a Minister remarked.
Our Hyderabad Special Correspondent adds:
The Backward Classes Welfare Association has said that the Supreme Court judgment was a victory for the struggles by the association seeking 34 per cent reservation for BCs in these bodies.
Association president R. Krishnaiah stated in a press release that the judgment was only a partial victory.