Elections to 143 block development councils (BDC) - the second tier of the panchayati raj system - have been postponed. The cabinet approved an ordinance in this regard in an urgently called cabinet meeting on Monday late evening. The elections, whose notification has been issued, were scheduled to be held on November 7.
"The cabinet approved the ordinance for postponement of elections. Another ordinance for giving reservations in the block development council will also be issued shortly," cabinet minister Taj Mohiuddin told HT.
The chief minister, in the assembly early this month, had said the BDC elections would be held as per the schedule. The ordinance was necessitated as the election process is on.
The National Conference leadership agreed to the consistent demand of the Congress that the elections would not serve the purpose unless the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes and women are given reservations in the BDC as per the 73rd Amendment.
The hurriedly called cabinet meeting was called two days after former chief minister and union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had said the elections would not serve the purpose unless reservations were put in place. The decision to postpone elections was arrived at after two-day deliberations between the NC and Congress.
The NC had earlier said it could give reservations by way of nominations to SC/ST, as per the population, which was not accepted by the Congress. The Congress has put two options before the government, either bring ordinance to give reservation or defer the polls.
The NC had agreed to bring an ordinance but said it would have prospective not retrospective affect - signifying that reservations for SC/ST and women will be placed in the next general elections.
The Congress leadership after discussing the proposal rejected it, saying since these people had been denied reservations at the sarpanch level, they couldn't wait for another five years when next elections of panchyats will be held. The elections have already been delayed. As per the act, the elections for the second tier - BDC- of panchayats should have been placed two months after the elections of panches and sarpanches, which were held about two years ago.