Cong demands suspension of polls in municipalities affected by SC order

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Panaji: Pointing out that the Supreme Court has only stayed the directives of the High Court and not ordered the restart of the poll process, which was halted on March 1, the Congress party on Friday wrote to the State Election Commission (SEC) demanding suspension of the election process of those municipal councils for which the hearing is pending before the apex court.
“The Hon’ble Supreme Court has only stayed the directives of the Hon’ble High Court and not ordered the restarting of the election process. It cannot be continued at the whims and fancies of the election commission with modified dates for filing nominations,” reads the letter written to the poll body by Goa Pradesh Congress Committee chief Girish Chodankar.
He stated that as a constitutional authority, the SEC is bound to be independent and bound to act fairly, adding that “however, with the law secretary of Goa having been appointed to hold the charge as State Election Commissioner, it is but natural that given the sordid manner in which the announcement of the elections was done, the State Election Commission is not functioning as an independent authority, but behaving like a stooge of the government.”
Chodankar urged State Election Commissioner C R Garg to accord due respect to the process of law and suspend the “farcical exercise” of election process till the legal issues are deliberated and finally decided by the top court.
Meanwhile, the state unit of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Friday demanded with the State Election Commission (SEC) to extend the time limit for the filing of nomination papers by candidates for elections to Mormugao, Margao, Mapusa, Quepem and Sanguem municipal councils, which have been affected by the Supreme Court order.
A delegation led by general secretary of the party Sanjay Barde met the SEC officials and asked them to extend the deadline for filing of nominations from 1 pm to 8 pm on March 6.
“We have asked the SEC to extend the time limit, as the Returning Officers (ROs) are taking 20 minutes to facilitate nomination papers of just one candidate, whereas there are 40-odd candidates, who will show up before the ROs on March 6, three hours are not enough,” Barde said speaking to pressmen at the SEC office in Panaji.
It is pertinent to note that on Thursday, after the Supreme Court stayed the High Court order as regards to reservation of wards in the five civic bodies of Mormugao, Margao, Mapusa, Quepem and Sanguem, the poll body resumed the poll process and rescheduled the elections to these five municipal councils.
“SEC should act as a neutral and independent authority and should not be a puppet of the ruling BJP. Rescheduling elections in these five municipal councils is contempt of court, as the Supreme Court is yet to pass its final judgment,” Barde said.