Bill requires SEC to fix dates in ‘concurrence’ with State

Friction between the State Election Commission (SEC) and the State government on holding of elections to the urban local bodies (ULBs) has taken a new twist with the government bringing in a Bill that requires the SEC to decide the date of polls for ULBs with its (government) concurrence.

The Bill titled ‘Karnataka Municipalities and Certain Other Law (Amendment) Bill- 2013’, which was adopted without a discussion in the Legislative Council on Tuesday states that: “It is considered necessary to amend the Karnataka Municipalities Act 1964 and the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act 1976 to enable the Election Commission to fix the date of elections with the concurrence of the State government with an objective to have better co-ordination between the State government and the SEC.” The Bill was also passed in the Legislative Assembly.

Piloting the Bill, Municipal Administration Minister Balachandra Jarkiholi only said that the proposed legislation would help better the co-ordination between the government and the SEC.

The Bill was adopted within minutes in the absence of a discussion.

Both the government and the Legislative Assembly were irked by SEC Commissioner C.R. Chikkamath’s decision to go ahead with the conducting of ULB polls on the basis of 2001 Census and ignoring their stand that these elections should be based on 2011 Census figures. The Assembly had even adopted a resolution urging the SEC to put off the elections till the 2011 Census figures were available. When the Commission stuck to its decision of holding the polls on 2001 census figures, the Assembly had adopted another resolution against the SCE, accusing him of lowering the dignity of the House.

The government has set aside Rs. 20 crore to meet additional expenditure that would be incurred by the SEC on elections to the ULBs.

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar tabled supplementary estimates amounting to Rs. 5,822.32 crore in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, earmarking Rs. 20 crore for holding the elections.

Of the Rs. 5,822.32 crore earmarked in the revised estimates, Rs. 516.79 crore would be covered by central assistance, Rs. 11.35 crore by other receipts, and Rs. 87 crore by adjustments. There were add-resources amounting to Rs. 3,613.04 crore, which was to be voted. Hence, the total demand for voting worked out to be Rs. 5,821.41 crore. The net outgo of cash was Rs. 1,594.12 crore which was expected to be funded from general buoyancy in tax and non-tax revenue and savings in provision for other schemes, the Chief Minister said.

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