Bhubaneswar, Aug. 12: The State Election Commission on Monday announced that elections to 91 urban local bodies, including the Berhampur Municipal Corporation, would be held on September 19. The results will be declared the next day.
As the tenure of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and Cuttack Municipal Corporation is not complete, elections to these civic bodies is likely to be held in February. Elections, however, will be held for 32 municipalities, 58 notified areas council (NAC) and the Berhampur Municipal Corporation.
State election commissioner Ajit Tripathy said: “We had no updated data on the 2011 census while the process for ward restructuring and election had begun for these 91 urban local bodies. We had to depend on the 2001 census. However, election to the Bhubaneswar civic body and that in Cuttack will be held according to the 2011 census.”
Around 27.57 lakh voters will elect 1,569 councillors. With the announcement of the poll, the model code of conduct has come into force in the state. Tripathy said: “The government cannot enrol new members under the Madhubabu pension scheme.”
Tripathy said: “Under the model code of conduct, it has already been clearly written what the government can or cannot do. If any question arises on the issue of laptop distribution, we are here to give our point of view.”
The state government has drawn flak after announcing many welfare schemes ahead of the polls. Critics have been particularly harsh in deploring the government’s pre-poll move to distribute laptops to students and mobile phones to farmers. While mobile phones have already been distributed to the farmers, the government is yet to hand over all the laptops to the students.
The poll panel chief made it clear that except normal developmental work, no new job should be started in the urban local bodies going to the polls.
“While relief and restoration (work) will continue, ministers and leaders except those enjoying Z category security, will not be allowed to use government accommodation in urban areas. No election activities in government rest houses in rural areas will be allowed,” he said.
With the announcements of dates, hectic political activities have begun in the state. Panchayati raj minister and BJD vice-president Kalpataru Das said: “We will certainly win more than 75 per cent urban local body seats. The party will ensure that model code of conduct is not violated.”
On the other hand, BJP state unit spokesperson Suresh Pujari said: “We do have a strong suspicion that the model code of conduct will not be strictly adhered to by the BJD. The way they are announcing one programme after another is really unfortunate.”
The CPI and CPI(M) have already stated to go alone in these elections.