Behind reluctance in holding urban body polls, analysts see ‘fear in ruling BJP’
The alleged reluctance of the BJP government in Uttarakhand to hold the urban local body elections could be a “tactical move” to buy time as the ruling party “lacks confidence” over its performance and is also fearful of the anti-BJP sentiment prevailing in the country, say analysts.
The terms of state’s various civic bodies are coming to an end on May 3.
On Wednesday, state election commissioner (SEC) Suvardhan accused the government of not cooperating with the poll panel’s efforts to conduct the urban body polls. The panel that has already moved the high court on the issue alleged that the government failed to heed to a request to allocate Rs 17 crore so that the electronic voting machines (EVMs) could be brought in for conducting the polls.
Suvardhan also accused chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat of not responding to his request for a meeting to discuss the issue, a charge denied by the government.
Parliamentary affairs minister Prakash Pant suggested that the poll panel’s demand for Rs 17 crore was premature. “The request for allocation for funds for EVMs was made by the poll panel last year but the urban body polls are slated to be held this year…We will now make the allocation,” he said.
Analysts, however, feel that the poll panel’s allegation that the BJP government was obstructing its efforts to conduct the local body polls has sent out a wrong message about the ruling dispensation.
“The poll panel’s open allegations against this (BJP) government have sent out a clear message that the latter is not confident of its victory in the polls,” said Prof L M Joshi, Head of Kumaon University’s Department of English.
Prof Y P Sundriayal of HNB Garhwal (Central) University echoed similar sentiments. “The ruling dispensation is not confident of the development initiatives taken by it during its first year in power and, therefore, wants to buy some more time,” he said. The academic’s views gain credence from the BJP government’s move on Wednesday to release the first instalment of Rs 154. 68 crore for the 92 urban local bodies, as per the fourth state finance commission recommendations.
“Another factor holding them is the countrywide sentiment against the BJP government at the Centre,” said Prof M M Semwal, Sundriayal’s colleague.
Semwal was referring to a countrywide violent agitation by Dalits during Bharat Bandh on Monday against a Supreme Court ruling that dilutes a law to check atrocities against them and tribes.
“The dominant anti-BJP sentiment also reflects from the way the saffron party was routed in almost all the Lok Sabha bypolls held recently in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan”, Semwal opined.
Analysts are unanimous that the BJP government shouldn’t have pressed the panic button. “I think, the ruling party would have easily won the local body polls as the opposition Congress continues to remain a divided house after it was routed in the 2017 assembly polls,” said Prof J P Pachauri who recently retired from HNB Garhwal University.
Pant said when the urban body polls would be held “now depends on the high court” as the issue was sub judice. Urban Development minister Madan Kaushik is on record stating that the BJP government had regularly been in touch with the poll penal.