Civic polls in Kerala to be held in November

The local body elections will take place in November and new governing bodies are likely to take charge by December 1, says State Election Commissioner K Sasidharan Nair

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, September 7: Ending the uncertainty, Kerala State Election Commission today announced that local body elections would be held in November, a month behind schedule, in the state ruled by Congress-led United Democratic Fund (UDF). The polls would be held in a single phase, State Election Commissioner K Sasidharan Nair told reporters here after an all-party meeting called to discuss the election process. The date for the polls would be decided after completing other related processes, Nair said. A question mark arose over the conduct of civic polls in time after cases were filed in the state high court challenging a government order forming 69 gramm panchayats, 34 municipalities and Kannur Corporation. Opposition parties accused the UDF regime of trying to postpone the democratic exercise. The court had quashed the order forming 69 panchayats and eight municipalities carved out of Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode Corporations, while upholding the formation of 28 municipalities across the state and Kannur Corporation. It had also rejected government plea for court intervention for postponing the polls, holding that the SEC has the power to decide on the timing of elections. Nair said polls would be held to the newly formed 28 municipalities and Kannur Corporation also. "The commission wanted to hold polls as early as possible in November and new governing bodies are likely to take charge by December 1," Nair said. Polls were postponed to November as there were practical difficulties in holding it in the 28 new municipalities and Kannur Corporation along with others, he said. In the all-party meet, CPI-M led LDF wanted the polls to be held in October itself while ruling UDF wanted them in November. BJP State President V Mualeedharan said the party wanted the polls to be held before the Ayyappa pilgrimage season to Sabarimala begins on November 17. "A party delegation will meet SEC tomorrow to present its demand," he added.