The Karnataka State Election Commission (SEC) has decided to postpone the upcoming gram panchayat elections in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. In its decision announced on Thursday, the SEC cited the 'exceptional circumstances' arising due to the pandemic has forced to temporarily put off elections.
Panchayat elections postponed
The elections for 5,800 out of the 6,025-gram panchayats in the state expires between May to August. The preparations for the electoral processes, including drawing up the voter-list, had come to a halt due to the enforcement of the national lockdown since March.
"On examining the viability of conducting the elections to gram panchayats, the SEC has decided to postpone the polls, considering the situation (Covid-19 pandemic)," stated the SEC's order.
The Commission has also taken note of the district administration and its machinery that are engaged in a relentless fight to prevent all sorts of further spread of the contagion in the state.
Meanwhile, the Congress Party questioned the poll body's decision and challenged the move in a court of law.
"The decision, by State election commission, to postpone Gram Panchayat elections is against the provisions of Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act 1993. INC Karnataka will question this undemocratic act in the court of law," wrote the party Chief and former CM Siddaramaiah in his series of tweets slamming the decision.
Congress slams the decision
He also accused the ruling BJP party of once again gaining power through unethical means against public sentiments.
Meanwhile, Siddaramaiah had previously called out the SEC for not initiating the electoral process, calling it 'unconstitutional' and a violation of the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act 1993.
Earlier, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (RDPR) minister KS Eshwarappa had appealed to the commission to delay the election. The Minister said, "Preparations for the elections at the ground level and at the administrative level have been affected by the lockdown. We have decided not to leave the administrative body vacant, instead, we will form administrative councils at every Gram Panchayat under Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act 1993."
In his accusations against the Election Commission, the Congress chief claimed that the delay in conducting the Panchayat elections was a threat to the decentralised system of democracy.
By objecting to the formation of administrative committees, he also stated that the SEC's failure in conducting the elections violates the objectives of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act.