Mayoral polls in Belagavi delayed

A file photo of the Belagavi city corporation building.

A file photo of the Belagavi city corporation building.

The Belagavi mayoral polls have been delayed for over two years. While parties blame officers, officers say there is no clarity about the reservation of posts, following a Supreme Court judgment.

Elections of members of the city corporation were completed on September 6, 2021. However, they have not been sworn in till now. Neither has the body been constituted, nor have the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor been elected.

It is not clear who is responsible for the delay, as politicians blame officers and officers blame the State government.

City corporation sources say that the State government issued the notification for the mayoral polls at first, but told them not to process it further.

Abhay Patil, MLA and BJP leader, lays the blame on the Regional Commissioner’s office for the delay. “We have requested Regional Commissioner Amlan Aditya Biswas to hold the polls at the earliest, after resolving the legal issues. The RC’s office has been delaying them without due cause,” he alleged.

Mr. Biswas said the decision was pending at the level of the State government. “Following the SC judgment on the Rahul Ramesh Wagh vs. the State of Maharashtra, elections to all rural and urban local bodies in the State were stalled. We wrote to the Urban Development Department seeking their opinion on the issue this March 7. We sought to know if the judgment would apply to Belagavi and other city corporations. But we are yet to get a formal reply. While the department approved the mayoral elections for the Hubballi–Dharwad corporation, it was yet to give the nod for Belagavi,” he said.

Sources in the RC’s office say that senior UDD officers had given oral instructions to “wait for sometime”, before the State government takes a decision on the issue. “We made preparations to issue the notifications for the elections twice in the past. But we were asked not to go ahead,” an officer said.

Activists, however, disagree. “There is nothing in the SC judgment that stops or delays the polls,” says Rohit Latur, lawyer and labour activist. “It only stipulates that if the Backward Classes Commission had not recommended the reservation roster, the State government cannot conduct mayoral polls based on caste quotas. It should hold the elections for both the posts considering them as open quota or general category posts. However, parties can always field city corporation members belonging to Backward Classes categories from the general category posts,” he said.

He also points out that elections to the city corporation were held in September 2021 while the SC judgment was delivered on January 19, 2022. “This clearly shows that the government has been delaying the mayoral polls unnecessarily. It is only using the SC judgment as an excuse,” he said.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2022 3:30:05 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mayoral-polls-in-belagavi-delayed/article65762148.ece