The two-phase elections to Punjab’s six municipal corporations and the 123 municipal councils and nagar panchayats are likely be held on February 19 and 24, respectively, according to government sources.
To avoid a date clash, the education department on Thursday decided to reschedule its annual exams, which would now start two days after the February 25 deadline that the SAD-BJP government has submitted before the Punjab and Haryana high court for completion of the urban civic bodies’ poll process.
Results of the corporations could be declared on February 24, in the evening after conclusion of voting for the other civic bodies; while the rest of the verdict is likely the next day.
Source said the state election officials on Thursday held a lengthy meeting with key functionaries of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s office about the poll dates and preparations, following which it was decided that the announcement would be made on Friday. The formal notification for the corporation polls is likely on February 4, while that for councils and nagar panchayats would be done on February 9.
Of the 10 municipal corporations in Punjab, the six going to polls are Pathankot, Hoshiarpur, Phagwara, SAS Nagar, Moga and Bathinda, in which about 8 lakh voters will elect 300 MC members (50 each). The politically vital Bathinda district has the maximum, 18 councils/nagar panchayats too.
In all, voters will elect nearly 4,000 representatives for the urban local bodies. Both the SAD and partner BJP are preparing for the polls as an opportunity to further strengthen and enlarge their base at the grassroots in the run up to assembly election in early 2017.
Education dept adjusts
Annual and board examinations in Punjab’s schools would now start from February 27, two days after the earlier-decided date, so as to avoid a clash with the poll process.
Sources said principal secretary, school education, C Roul on Thursday sent a letter to state election commissioner SS Brar, also asking the poll panel to depute the minimum number of teachers required, preferably from primary classes, for election duties.
Reiterating that the department of school education had “uppermost in its mind” the interest of students, the principal secretary in his letter pointed out: “The department would have appreciated if the election process to the urban local bodies could have been conducted at reasonable gap from the dates of annual and board examinations…. However, if there is legal, administrative as well as constitutional obligation to conduct the elections... the department will accommodate by shifting the [exams] by a couple of days.”