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Does resolution on Belgaum's transfer violate poll code?

Vijaykumar Patil

Belgaum Corporation Commissioner says it does


  • Corporation accused of committing contempt of court
  • Model code does not come in the way of holding council meeting
  • Resolution seen as part of an MES campaign aimed at espousing Marathi sentiments

    Belgaum: Does the controversial resolution supporting the transfer of Belgaum (along with an appeal to the Government to resolve the long-pending boundary dispute vis--vis the question of Belgaum) adopted by the Belgaum City Corporation violate the model code of conduct in view of the coming elections to the taluk and zilla panchayats?

    The corporation is accused of committing contempt of court since the Maharashtra Government has approached Supreme Court seeking resolution of the boundary dispute and the apex court is yet to dispose of the matter.

    According to Corporation Commissioner K.D. Birje, the resolution violates the mode code. "Definitely, it violates," he told The Hindu over telephone here on Friday.

    Apparently, the resolution violates Rule (1) of General Conduct which states: "No party or candidate shall indulge in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic."

    However, he said the model code does not come in the way of holding council meeting of the corporation since it is applicable to rural areas in the light of elections to taluk and zilla panchayats If the model code is strictly applicable to urban civic bodies such as the Belgaum City Corporation, then the Government should have withdrawn the official vehicles of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and heads of standing committees. Since it has not withdrawn the vehicles, it is interpreted that the model code is not applicable to the corporation, he said.

    Timing

    Apparently, the timing of the resolution has political and electoral overtones in the light of the panchayat elections, as it carries a strong linguistic appeal among the pro-Maharashtra forces and Marathi-speaking people in areas bordering Maharashtra.

    The Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, which lost all three of its strongholds of Belgaum, Khanapur and Uchagaon in 1999 Assembly elections, staged a comeback in Khanapur and Uchagaon in the 2004 polls. It received a shot in the arm when a majority of the Marathi councillors united after a gap of more than five years to win the mayoral polls on September 5. Also, the MES supporters have captured a good number of gram panchayats and Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees in Belgaum and other border taluks.

    It is appealing to Marathi voters to elect Marathi candidates in the taluk and zilla panchayat elections with a view to strengthening its demand for the merger of Belgaum, Khanapur and Nippani with Maharashtra.

    Thus, the resolution is seen as part of an MES campaign aimed at espousing Marathi sentiments. But it apparently has aggravated the existing differences between the linguistic communities with Kannada organisations demanding that the corporation be superseded.

    However, District Returning Officer and Deputy Commissioner Shalini Rajneesh, who is stated to have sent a report to the Government about the proceedings of the BCC, is yet to ascertain whether the resolution is in violation of the model code of conduct .

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