The Karnataka State Election Commission on Thursday announced the postponement of gram panchayat polls citing the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of 6,025 gram panchayats, the tenure of 5,800 gram panchayats will end by June-August 2020.
"After examining the feasibility of conducting general elections to gram panchayats, the State Election Commission, considering the current situation as exceptional circumstance, has decided to temporarily postpone the general elections to the gram panchayats," the SEC said in a release.
It said after examining the situation in the days to come, the decision will be taken on holding the general elections to the gram panchayats.
The CEC also states that report by Deputy Commissioners of districts on holding the elections was verified and it has been found that district administrations are involved in COVID-19 related work and there will be shortage of staff and transport facilities for the elections.
Besides, there would be a problem in maintaining law and order.
Last week through a letter to Deputy Commissioners of districts, the commission had sought opinion on holding panchayat polls amid the COVID-19 crisis. It had also pointed
out that electoral roll needs to be prepared and reservations had to be allocated as per the new amendments.
Stating that the state election commission's decision to postpone gram panchayat elections was against the provisions of the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act 1993, the Leader of Opposition, Siddaramaiah said the Congress will question this "undemocratic act" in the court of law.
He accused the commission of playing to the BJP's tune and said the congress will protest the decision at gram panchayat level.
Opposition parties in the state, especially congress, have been demanding elections.
The government was in favour of postponement of polls and wants to have administrative committees to govern the panchayats, until the polls are held, according to government sources.
The Congress, raising apprehension about administrative committees, has accused the government of conspiring to have ruling BJP workers as its members.
A congress delegation had last week submitted a petition to State Election Commissioner B Basavaraju and urged the Commission to hold elections.
The congress had even suggested continuation of sitting panchayat members until the polls are held, instead of appointing administrative committees.