‘No time to rest’: In Telangana, KCR’s TRS preps for 2019 with new election

The term of 12,741 gram panchayats in Telangana ended on August 1 this year, but the government deferred the elections saying that reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs hadn’t been finalised and had kept the gram panchayats under the rule of panchayat secretaries.
K Chandrasekhar Rao’s TRS, which returned to power for a second successive term in the just concluded assembly elections by winning 88 out of 119 seats, is once again ahead of the opposition in preparing for the rural polls.(PTI/File Photo)
K Chandrasekhar Rao’s TRS, which returned to power for a second successive term in the just concluded assembly elections by winning 88 out of 119 seats, is once again ahead of the opposition in preparing for the rural polls.(PTI/File Photo)
Updated on Dec 19, 2018 06:23 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Hyderabad | By

After the high-voltage elections for the state assembly, Telangana is now gearing up for yet another electoral battle — that of gram panchayats — in the first week of January.

The term of 12,741 gram panchayats in the state ended on August 1 this year, but the government deferred the elections for the rural local bodies saying that the reservations for SCs, STs and Other Backward Classes hadn’t been finalised and had kept the gram panchayats under the rule of panchayat secretaries.

Following a public interest litigation, the Hyderabad high court in its judgement on October 11 directed that the elections for the gram panchayats and offices of the sarpanch be held within three months. As such, the elections have to be held before January 10. “We are ready for holding the elections any time after December 31. We could have completed the elections by now, but for the recent assembly elections to the state assembly,” Telangana state election commissioner V Nagi Reddy said.

In all, elections to 1.26 lakh ward members and sarpanch posts would be held in January first week. The electoral rolls will be revised from December 26 onwards. “The notification is likely to be issued any time after Christmas,” an official in the commission said.

Though gram panchayat elections are supposed to be held on non-party basis without regular election symbols, political parties openly participate in electioneering to capture the posts of ward members and sarpanches to hold power in the villages. The contestants openly claim their affiliation to their respective political parties while campaigning in the elections.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi, or TRS, which returned to power for a second successive term in the just concluded assembly elections by winning 88 out of 119 seats, is once again ahead of the opposition parties in preparing its leaders and cadre for the gram panchayat elections.

At a meeting held at Telangana Bhavan, the TRS party headquarters on Tuesday, party working president KT Rama Rao called upon the party functionaries to go all out to win the gram panchayats.

“There is no time for us to rest and enjoy the recent victory in the assembly polls. We have to capture all the gram panchayats, followed by mandal parishad and zilla parishads. Finally, we have to win all the Lok Sabha seats from Telangana,” Rama Rao told them.

The TRS leadership is of the view that the victory in the assembly elections would definitely have a positive impact on the gram panchayat elections as well. At the same time, several decisions taken by the TRS government early this year, such as the enhancement of state grants from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 25 lakh for each gram panchayat apart from finance commission grants, utilisation of local area development funds of MPs, MLAs and MLCs in gram panchayats and the conversion of over 2,600 tribal hamlets into panchayats would also help the TRS in a big way.

On the other hand, the Congress, which is still reeling under the shock of the recent debacle in the assembly polls, is yet to work out its strategy for the panchayat elections. However, the party is trying to play the OBC card by questioning a recent ordinance promulgated by the TRS government on Saturday last fixing a cap of 50 per cent on the overall reservations, citing a Supreme Court order.

“As per the ordinance, the OBCs will get only 24 per cent, as against 34 per cent originally proposed by the government. It should have filed a review petition in the apex court. We shall fight against this injustice towards the OBCs,” PCC campaign committee chairman and legislator Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka said.

He demanded that the government should seek more time from the court for the conduct of gram panchayat elections and do justice to the OBCs.

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