Even as the Zilla Panchayat (ZP) elections in the state are scheduled to be held on March 22, the political parties and individuals who are aspiring to contest the upcoming elections are still waiting for the notification from the Directorate of Panchayats on the reservation of the constituencies for the different categories.
As per the law in force, the State Election Commission (SEC) has no role in carrying out the process of reservation of constituencies for the ZP polls and it the prerogative of the Directorate of Panchayats, which has to issue the notification specifying the limits of each constituency and reservation of seats as per the provisions of Section 118 and 119 of The Goa Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 (Goa Act No 14 of 1994), as has been the case in 2015 ZP polls.
The Panchayat Secretary, on behalf of the department, has to issue the notification specifying the names of the ZP constituency, names of the village panchayats and the number of wards that fall under the particular constituency. Also, the Panchayat Secretary has to specify whether the particular ZP constituency is reserved for women/ Scheduled Tribe or Other Backward Class.
During the 2015 ZP polls, in North Goa, five constituencies were reserved for OBC, six for women candidates while three constituencies were reserved for women belonging to OBC category. Only one constituency was reserved for ST candidates.
For South Goa, four constituencies were reserved for OBC, four for women candidates while three constituencies were reserved for candidates belonging to ST category. Two seats each
were also reserved for women belonging to OBC and ST categories.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued late Wednesday night, the Congress party took objection to the statement reportedly made by Panchayat Minister Mauvin Godinho wherein he stated that “the file pertaining to fixing of dates and reservations of Zilla Panchayat elections are sent to SEC.”
“Godinho’s statement has raised serious questions on the intentions of the government to hold the elections in a free and fair manner. The minister should explain under which provisions of law the SEC can take up the work,” leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat said.
Kamat said that if the government wanted to have free and fair elections then they should have brought an amendment to the Goa Panchayati Raj Act in the last assembly session to empower the SEC to carry out the process of reservations for ZP constituencies.
“As Godinho says that the file is sent to SEC for fixing dates and reservations of ZP polls, the match-fixing tactics of BJP government stand exposed. The Congress party condemns the act and demands level playing field from the government with neutral umpire stated,” said state Congress president Girish Chodankar.
“BJP is fully aware of its imminent defeat in the ZP polls. We demand that the elections should be held with an equal opportunity to all the candidates. The Congress party will not support the dirty tricks of the BJP,” he added.