Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) President N. Uttam Kumar Reddy on Tuesday demanded that the state government withdraw the 'undemocratic ordinance' that was issued on December 15, amending the Panchayat Raj Act to bring down the reservation for Backward Classes in Panchayat Raj elections. In a letter to Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, he demanded that the ruling TRS government must implement the High Court order on conducting caste-wise enumeration of BCs in the state along with a socio-economic survey, before the polls are conducted.
"The Congress party disagrees with your government's ordinance reducing the BC reservation quota on the pretext of a Supreme Court verdict. The entire BC community of Telangana is agitated about reducing the reservations for BCs in Sarpanch and local body elections. The Congress party categorically states that reservations for BCs in local body elections must be commensurate with the population percentage of BCs in Telangana," the TPCC chief said in his open letter.
Earlier this month, in a major move, the Telangana government promulgated an ordinance which restricted reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes to a maximum of 50 percent, so that the state could go ahead with conducting Panchayat Raj elections. Governor E S L Narasimhan signed the Telangana Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, officially putting this decision into place.
In October, the Hyderabad High Court had directed the Telangana government to conduct panchayat polls within three months from the date of the hearing and also sent a notice to the stateās Election Commission. Following this, the EC approached the court and said that it was waiting for the state government to finalise the percentage of reservations under the provisions of the Telangana Panchayat Raj Act, 2018.
The term of the local bodies in the state had ended on August 1 this year, but the Telangana government had approached the Supreme Court seeking permission to raise the total quota for the BC communities in the state.
Presently, BCs are entitled to 34 percent reservation while the SC and ST communities are entitled to 26 percent, proportionate to their population. Telangana govt had argued that BCs comprise of more than 50 percent of the population and they needed 52 percent quota in the local body polls. However, as this would breach the 50 percent ceiling fixed by the apex court, the SC struck down the case.
Therefore, the state government has decided to go ahead with the conduct of polls with the latest ordinance being promulgated. However, this move is expected to trigger dissent within members of the BC community, who play a key role in elections, even as the state heads to the Lok Sabha polls next year
In the letter that was shot off to KCR on Tuesday, Uttam Kumar Reddy also objected to the conduct of Panchayat Raj elections by the state Election Commission on 'defective' electoral rolls that were used for recently held Assembly elections.
"Nearly 22 lakh eligible voters were missing from the electoral rolls and Chief Electoral Officer Dr. Rajat Kumar has admitted the same. As per the schedule for summary revision of electoral rolls announced by the Election Commission of India, the Integrated Draft Electoral Rolls will be published on December 26; Claims and Objections will be received from December 26 to January 25. Therefore, we feel that there is no point in holding the Panchayat Raj elections without waiting for revised electoral rolls. After all, elections are meant for people to elect their representative and when several lakh citizens are being deprived of their voting right, it surely is a mockery of democracy by the ruling government," Uttam said.