Sources said several Congress leaders, especially those who are aspirants for LS tickets, were against holding the panchayat elections before Lok Sabha. (Punjab CM Amarinder Singh)
Ignoring demand of several Congress leaders to postpone panchayat elections and schedule these after the Lok Sabha elections, the state government has decided to hold them in mid-December. The decision was taken during a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday. Rural Development Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa too was part of the meeting.
Sources said several Congress leaders, especially those who are aspirants for LS tickets, were against holding the panchayat elections before Lok Sabha. They were of the opinion that the election would divide the party workers and cause them heartburn as there would be many aspirants for the posts of sarpanches in every village and those not supported would turn against the party. This could prove detrimental for the prospects of the candidates for the Lok Sabha election.
But the meeting decided to ignore the political feedback as it was stated that they cannot postpone the panchayat elections beyond January as the term of panchayats comes to an end then. A suggestion was made that the postponement could be done through legislation in Vidhan Sabha but the suggestion was turned down.
It is learnt that Amarinder was told that this was an opportune time to hold the election as both opposition SAD and AAP were facing a crisis arising out of infighting. Also, SAD was on the defensive after the Bargari issue.
Sources said that the elections are to be held after 25 days of the notification. Also, the government wants the Act providing for 50 per cent reservation for women in panchayats notified. The Punjab Governor has already given his assent to the Bill passed by the Vidhan Sabha.
The government recently held Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections. That time it was demanded that the panchayat elections should also be held along with. But it was felt that people would not be able to vote correctly for so many candidates. It would only lead to confusion.
“The election commission of the state would soon notify the date. It could be any date starting from December 11,” said a senior functionary of the government.