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Parties gird up for gram panchayat poll battle in Karnataka.

 Parties gird up for gram panchayat poll battle in Karnataka.

ENGALURU: Though dates for Gram Panchayat elections are yet to be announced, political parties have started their groundwork. The Karnataka High Court on Friday directed the Karnataka State Election Commission (SEC) to announce dates within three weeks, which means the election is likely to be held by December-end.

The term of Karnataka’s 6,025 gram panchayats ended in June/July. In May this year, the SEC announced postponement of panchayat polls, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as an “exceptional circumstance”. Meanwhile, a PIL was filed before the high court, questioning the postponement.

Even when the case was in court, political parties were on their toes, preparing for elections. Recently, at the Executive Committee meeting in Mangaluru, BJP leaders discussed the Gram Panchayat elections. The party will be holding Kutumba Milana, a get-together, at the panchayat level, where leaders will reach out to the last person in every panchayat. “We will tell them about the government’s achievements and other schemes to reach voters,” sources in the BJP said. 

KPCC Working President Saleem Ahmed said the Congress has already started ground preparations. “We have instructed workers at the booth and district level to prepare for the election. They have already started reaching out to people and explaining the State government’s failure in handling Covid, flood and other local issues. We are ready for the election,” he said.

The JDS, too, is trying to woo voters. “After the recent defeat in bypolls, our party will be focusing on Gram Panchayat elections. The JDS has to prove its presence in panchayat elections, we are in a do-or-die situation,’’ a JDS leader said, on condition of anonymity.

The Karnataka government had written to the SEC, seeking postponement of Gram Panchayat elections, citing the pandemic. Meanwhile, a high-level expert committee submitted a detailed report on how dangerous it could be to conduct GP elections at a time when COVID-19 cases were peaking in rural areas.

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