The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Seat status stumps civic polls

Sample this: Total posts are four — two mayors and two deputy mayors. One-third of the four offices is to be reserved for Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe persons. Further, one third of this reserved section is meant for women belonging to SC/ST. Out of the remaining two-third offices, one-third is reserved for women.

This confusing status of reservation of seats for the offices of mayors and deputy mayors in municipal corporations in Ranchi and Dhanbad compounded with the Herculean task of completion of a survey of the other backward classes (OBCs) in the state and the non-formation of wards in many civic bodies further erases the hopes of the government of conducting early municipal polls.

It has been left to the prerogative of state election commission, which itself is devoid of any decision-making authority since December 12 when former commissioner G. Krishnan’s term ended, to decide and work out the reservation policy according to rosters.

However, the state, with only two municipal corporations which have four posts of mayor and deputy mayors, the matter is all set to face legal wrangles with prospective contestants for the posts likely to head for court’s intervention into the matter.

Urban development department deputy secretary D. Prasad said the department was now through with the Jharkhand Municipal Election Rules, 2006, and now it is up to the poll commission to resolve the matters related to reservation.

The complexities involved in the reservation matter was seconded by top officials of the state election commission while a deputy commissioner has gone to the extent of saying that the urban development department is indulging in “total time pass” and is not at all serious about an early civic poll.

For extending reservation to OBC category in wards, which the municipal rule, recently cleared by the cabinet, stipulates, there is no base for a survey. “We received a letter from the government for a survey of OBCs in civic bodies. But there is no base for this in the state and the task has to be undertaken afresh. The general census and census conducted for panchayat polls during the unified Bihar do not serve any purpose,” said a deputy commissioner, adding that the task, if undertaken, would take more than a year.

More interestingly, the delimitation and construction of wards at the level of almost all civic bodies is pending.

However, urban development minister Harinarayan Rai said the civic polls would be conducted at the earliest.

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