Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday accused the BJP-led state government of hurting the “foundation of democracy" by dissolving village panchayats without conducting elections for them.
Yadav’s allegation prompted a rebuttal from UP BJP vice-president and party's in-charge of panchayat elections Vijay Bahadur Pathak who said Yadav had been the state’s chief minister and should know that the panchayat elections could not have been held amid the COVID-19.
Pathak also expressed the UP government’s commitment to holding the panchayat elections within six months.
"The BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has dissolved the village panchayats without conducting the fresh elections for them. Major elections are being conducted, but the government has been finding itself unable to hold elections of the smallest units of public representation. How will this government-run Uttar Pradesh?" Yadav said in a tweet in Hindi on Sunday.
"The BJP must not hurt the foundation of democracy," the former UP chief minister added in his tweet.
Rebutting Yadav’s claims, Pathak told PTI, “Akhilesh Yadav had been the chief minister of UP. He should know that elections should have been conducted at the stipulated time. He should also know that the elections have been delayed because of the anti-COVID protocol. The UP government is committed to holding elections within six months for which preparations are already going on," said Pathak.
He also said that those who are accusing the government of not holding the elections for these “smallest units of public representation" had actually crushed them for their own vested interests.
"The BJP has faith in democratic values," Pathak said.
The Uttar Pradesh has a total of 58,758 'gram panchayats' and as many panchayat heads. As per a state government notification, the five-year tenure of 58,660 'gram panchayats', barring 88 of Gautam Budh Nagar and 10 of Gonda districts, where gram panchayat elections were held later, ended on December 25.
Following the expiry of terms of village panchayats, the state government has appointed assistant developments officers of districts as panchayat administrators of their districts, vesting in them the powers of panchayat committees and village panchayat heads.