BJP Knocks Court Door

The BJP today moved Orissa High Court against a State Government notification  changing Zilla Parishad Election Rules, contending that rules cannot be altered in the middle of election process.

"One of our Zilla Parishad members Sukhlal Munda from Sundergarh district today filed a petition challenging the Odisha government's notification on changing rules for the Zilla Parishad Elections," Union Minister Jual Oram said.

The state's Panchayati Raj department on March 8 in a notification announced certain changes in Odisha Zilla Parishad Election Rules-1994, and the petition was filed two days before election for ZP presidents.

"How can the government make changes in the rules when the election process is on," Oram, the Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, asked.

As per the amended rules, an  authorized agent of each political party, whose members will vote for the election of president or vice-president, will be allowed to verify ballot papers of his/her party members before they cast their votes.

According to results of the panchayat polls, BJP has emerged as the principal gainer by becoming the second largest party pushing the Congress to the third position, even as the BJD won majority seats. Of the 846 ZP seats for which  polls were held in five phases from February 13, the BJD has won 473 seats and the BJP 297.

Now elected members would vote to ZP President and Vice-President's poll. The BJD Government has brought in this "highly undemocratic" and "unconstitutional" notification to help its own party's candidates, Mr.Oram claimed.

Senior BJP leader and former Minister Law Biswa Bhusan Harichandan said that if the Government wanted to change rules, it should have been done before the notification for the panchayat elections was issued on December 27.BJD, however, welcomed the  Government notification.
The new rules would help avoid horse trading as none can cross-vote in the ZP President and Vice-President elections, BJD Spokesperson Amar Prasad Satpathy said.
Meanwhile, the Governing  BJD has imposed whip on its elected ZP members asking them to vote for party candidates during ZP president and vice-president elections.
According to the new rules, ZP  Members elected on party symbols will lose their membership if they vote against party whip.
Meanwhile, the Orissa High Court today stayed the Zilla Parishad chairman elections in Malkangiri and Nuapada districts till further order.
The HC order follows an appeal by a ZP candidate of Malkangiri district not to hold the elections for ZP chairman posts as polling could not be conducted in two and one zones in Malklangiri and Nuapada dists, respectively.
Notably, the polls were not held in ZP zone number 7 and 8 of Chitrakonda in Malkangiri due to Maoist threats while it was not held in Komna-2 ZP seat in Nuapada district following a High Court order.
An official of the district administration confirmed that High Court order has been received and necessary steps taken accordingly.

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