Goa Church threatens boycott of village panchayat polls
Panaji, May 3 (IANS) The Goa church has threatened to urge voters to boycott the May 16 village panchayat polls, if the "controversial electioneering process" for the grassroot local bodies is not cancelled within seven days.
In a letter to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar Thursday, executive secretary of the Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP) Fr Maverick Fernandes said that there was growing "public unrest vis a vis the controversial process of delimitation and reservation of wards for the panchayat polls" in over 180 plus village panchayats of Goa.
"CSJP hopes that the government will take urgent steps in the right direction to ease the growing public unrest and ensure free and fair elections to the village panchayats which fits within the scheme of 'zero tolerance to corruption'," said Fernandes in his letter.
"Should the government fail to keep the elections in abeyance within seven days, the public will be left with choice but to boycott the village panchayat elections," he said.
Civil society activists and members of several village panchayats have complained about gross irregularities in the hasty delimitation of wards, as well as creation of reserved wards based on faulty data.
CSJP has also called the controversial delimitation and reservation processes as an attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led coalition government to manipulate the lections.
Maverick has now called for a postponement by a few months in order to allow for framing of guidelines for the pre-panchayat poll exercises.
"The government should appoint a task force to prepare the rules/guidelines for conducting delimitation, numbering and reservation of wards within two months," Fernandes said.
The Church in Goa is an influential voice in Goa's socio-political fabric because of the nearly 26 per cent Christian population in the state.
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