Panchayat polls deferred because of COVID surge in Bihar, cabinet nod for alternative arrangement

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Patna, Jun 1 (PTI) The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar on Tuesday amended the states Panchayati Raj Act, paving way for setting up advisory committees for supervising the functioning of the village bodies till fresh elections to these, put off because of the COVID-19 surge, could be held.

According to state Panchayati Raj minister Samrat Choudhary, the proposal to this effect received the nod at the cabinet meeting held earlier in the day and further modalities will be decided once the amendment gets clearance from the Governor.

Tenures of the Panchayat bodies will end on June 15 next and election to about 2.58 lakh posts of the three-tier local rural bodies was needed to be completed before that.

The state has, however, been struck by a devastating second wave which has left lakhs infected with the coronavirus and killed thousands.

'The amendment was necessitated by the fact that the previous Act contained no provision with regard to a scenario like this wherein an unforeseen situation leads to postponement of elections', Choudhary told reporters.

Replying to a query, he said after the nod from Raj Bhavan the government will decide as to who will head and comprise the 'paramarsh samiti' (advisory committees) which would oversee the working of Panchayats, Zila Parishads and Gram Kachaharis.

The minister, however, debunked apprehensions expressed by opposition parties which had demanded 'extension of tenures' of Panchayat members and not give the bureaucracy a free run.

'This is laughable. We are a democratic state. Peoples democratic rights will be safeguarded under all circumstances.

Nobody is going to have a free run', he quipped. PTI NAC SNS SNS

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