The Chairman of 20 Point Economic Programme N. Tulasi Reddy said that the State government will decide in a couple of days the basis for extending reservation for backward classes in the upcoming local body polls.
Consultations on whether the 34 per cent reservation should be extended with State, district or mandal as unit were in progress, Mr. Tulasi Reddy told a meeting here on Sunday on the topic ‘Panchayat Raj in AP and Democracy’. It was organised by the Forum for Electoral Reforms in AP.
Mr. Reddy rebuffed criticism against the State government that it lacked commitment to hold elections to the local bodies saying a writ petition in High Court challenging the BC reservation was filed just when the government was gearing to hold elections in 2011. A month ahead of the expiry of the term of gram panchayats, mandal and zilla parishads in 2011, the Commissioner of Panchayat Raj had requested the State Election Commission (SEC) to conduct elections.
It was only in February last that the Supreme Court issued an interim order asking the government to go ahead with elections with a total quota of 60.5 per cent for SCs, STs and BCs. The government was on the job since then, he added.
Earlier, retired Chief Secretary and former SEC chairman K. Madhava Rao said it was unfortunate that the rural local bodies did not have elected representatives for two years.
He added that the purpose of setting up SECs was defeated if elections were not held in time. The floor leader of CPI in Assembly Gunda Mallesh demanded direct elections to the chairmanship of gram panchayats, mandal and zilla parishads to avoid political manipulations.
The chairmen will work without fear or favour if they were directly elected by people.
The meeting was also addressed by ex-MLC Cherupalli Sitaramulu, Lok Satta State president K. Srinivas Rao and former MP S. Ramachandra Reddy.
Election Watch meet
At a separate meeting of Election Watch on the same subject, retired Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court A. Laxman Rao sought efforts to ensure unanimous election of sarpanches with good background. Former vice-chancellor of Osmania University T. Tirupathi Rao also spoke.