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Kejriwal tears into BJP after SEC defers MCD poll dates announcement

Kejriwal tears into BJP after SEC defers MCD poll dates announcement
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New Delhi: Half an hour before the State Election Commission was about to announce the dates for the upcoming municipal corporation elections on Wednesday, it was told that the Union government was considering measures for the reunification of the three civic bodies, following which a flustered SEC Commissioner SK Srivastava deferred the announcement of dates before a room full of reporters.

The move drew an immediate and sharp reaction from AAP supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who hit out at the Centre, saying, "Can central govt "direct" any EC to delay/cancel any elections? Under which provision? Are these "directions" binding on EC? Why is EC buckling under pressure? Will Modiji not even allow elections to be held in this country?"

Ever since the MCD was broken up into three bodies in 2012, they have been mired in financial crisis and the Delhi BJP has for long proposed reunification as a solution to this problem. The SEC's presser on Wednesday confirmed that the Union government was indeed planning to reunite the civic bodies.

On Wednesday, Srivastava said that he was ready to announce polling dates for the three civic bodies but he had to defer the announcement due to "new developments". The SEC had recieved a letter from L-G Anil Baijal's office at 4:30 pm on Wednesday, informing it that the Union government intended to bring legislation for the unification of the MCD.

Citing this letter, the SEC said that it was deferring the announcement of dates and "examining the communication".

"We are only examining the communication and we have had no time to process it either", Srivastava added.

Within minutes of the briefing, CM Kejriwal and the AAP tore the BJP-run Union government apart for allegedly trying to interfere in the civic body elections, with Deputy CM Manish Sisodia holding a presser soon after and calling the Centre's intervention an assault on democracy and further questioning the SEC as to why it was buckling "under pressure".

Right before ending Wednesday's briefing and deferring the poll date announcement by a few days, Srivastava stressed that the elections needed to be held by May 18.

He added that the government does not have any power to withhold elections and that the final decision regarding the matter remained with the SEC.

Srivastava cleared any rumours about the possible cancellation of elections by stating that they are only deferring the announcement of poll dates and nothing else. The SEC added that the election process takes up to 30 days and so they have enough time to announce the dates and conduct the election before the deadline.

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