Panchayat polls announced in Assam, autonomous bodies to follow

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Guwahati, Nov 14 (UNI) The Panchayat and tribal autonomous bodies of Assam are gearing up to get their elected representatives by mid-January and March end next year respectively, setting to rest the speculations regarding the delay in announcing the polls.

Decks have been cleared for the long-overdue Panchayat elections in Assam, with the state set for a three-phase election to the rural bodies from December 31.

State Welfare of Plain Tribes Minister Pramila Rani Brahma today announced in the state Assembly that the elections to all the autonomous councils would also be held by March 31 next year.

A Gawahati High Court division bench, comprising Chief Justice J Chalameswar and Justice A Potsmamhbam, had yesterday given the green signal to the Assam State Election Commission (ASEC) to hold the Panchayat polls as per the schedule submitted by it.

The Congress-led state government today flaunted the announcement of the poll dates in the state Assembly, silencing the Opposition criticism over the delay in holding the election.

The Panchayat bodies will now witness three-phase election with the eastern districts going to the polls on December 31, the central Assam districts on January four and the western districts on January nine. The entire poll process will be completed by January 12.

Elections would be held for 2,199 village panchayats, 23 zilla parishads and 219 anchalik parishads in all the 27 districts of the state.

The state government maintained that it was completely prepared for holding the elections and exuded confidence of sweeping it. The Congress has remained undefeated in the past consecutive Lok Sabha, Assembly, civic bodies and Panchayat elections.

The Opposition parties, however, claimed that massive corruption indulged in by the outgoing Panchayat bodies would ensure a crushing defeat for the ruling party.

The main Opposition party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has, in fact, announced of contesting the Panchayat elections on the corruption issue.

With Ms Brahma informing the House that the autonomous bodies will also complete their poll exercise by March end next year, it would spell electioneering time across the state.

The state has several autonomous councils, though only the three councils in North Cachar Hills, Karbi Anglong and Bodoland are included in the sixth schedule, resulting in the rest of the councils' areas also seeing Panchayat polls.

UNI

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