Parties push hard for panchayat polls

 Much is at stake for the three political parties, especially the ruling Congress, during the upcoming panchayat elections.

The Congress, which had come a close second during the previous rural local body elections held in December 2010, is hoping to reverse the trend this time. So it’s little wonder that it is contesting a majority of seats both at the zilla and taluk panchayat levels.

In the first phase, scheduled to be held on February 13, 552 ZP seats and 1,945 TP seats are going to the elections.

Of these, the Congress is contesting 547 ZP seats and 1,927 TP seats, while the BJP is contesting 538 ZP and 1,842 TP seats.  The JD(S), which had captured a substantial number of seats in the previous elections, has fielded 361 candidates for ZPs and 1,133 candidates for TPs. Five years ago, the BJP, which was in power, had swept 441 ZP seats and 1,501 TP seats, while the Congress had bagged 353 ZP  and 1,224 TP seats. The JD(S) had won 108 ZP seats and 742 TP seats. The number of seats to be contested has gone up considerably this time. In 2010, elections were held for 1,013 ZP seats and 3,659 TP seats.

Based on the population figures of the 2011 census, the number of seats for the panchayats has gone up - 1,083 ZP seats and 3,903 TP seats.

These elections have gained primacy because the presidents of zilla panchayats will get a five-year term and a minister of state rank. This is why the kin of established/prominent politicians have entered the fray in most districts. Campaigning activities will come to an end at 7 am on February 11.

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