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Postpone Goa panchayat polls, says church body

Panaji, April 28 - The Archdiocese of Goa's social wing Saturday sought the postponement of panchayat elections in the state, alleging irregularities in ward reservation and delimitation.

"The Council of Social Justice and Peace voices its objections to this undemocratic and unjust manner of functioning of the state government. The present elections of the village panchayats scheduled for May 16 cannot be claimed to be free and fair," said Maverick Fernandes, the council's executive secretary.

The decision to seek a postponement was taken after a meeting of CSJP and civil society activists here.

"The arbitrary manner in which the director of panchayats has been issuing and withdrawing corrigendum regarding the delimitation of wards proves the vulnerability of this office to political pressures," Fernandes said. There was no mechanism to check the subversion of a free and fair electoral practices, he said.

The CSJP has said the manner in which the panchayat wards were delimited and reserved smacked of arbitrariness and favouritism by the Bharatiya Janta Party-led state government.

This is the first time the influential Roman Catholic church of Goa, which largely represents the 26 percent Christian population in the state has come into direct confrontation with the government.


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