Uncertainty continues over JK Panchayat polls with no consensus on timing of elections

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Srinagar: Uncertainty prevails over the holding of the panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir as political parties of the state government are not on the same page before taking a final call on holding the polls.

On November 4 this year, Governor NN Vohra promulgated the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, which was expected to pave the way for the much-awaited panchayat elections. Panchayats in state completed their five-year term in June 2016.

The state government has recently reportedly conveyed to the Centre its inability to hold panchayat elections.

However, sources said that Vohra has called for holding early elections to Panchayats and Municipalities in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sources said that Union Home Ministry’s has also directed to the state government to hold the elections by January to “restore normalcy” in Kashmir valley.

“The government is yet to take a decision on holding the elections,” a senior official said, when asked about the government’s position on holding the delayed elections in the state.

Sources said that the ruling parties in Jammu and Kashmir are divided on the timing of holding Panchayat polls in the state.

The BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav during his visit to the valley, had asked the party cadre to gear up for the Panchayat elections. In one of the party meet, he told the party workers that Panchayat polls would be held before the winter.

A BJP minister said that party workers and leaders have geared up for thePanchayat polls.

“The Panchayat polls should be held as soon as possible in the state,” the BJP minister said, wishing not to be quoted by name.

It has been learnt that party leaders are also luring big wigs that include the former bureaucrats, politicians, retired police officers, who have good footings in their respective areas and asking them to campaign in favour of BJP candidates.

An official at the State Election Office said no decision has been taken about the Panchayat polls. “A ruling party (PDP) does not want polls before March next year. The State Election Office can’t take decision on its own,” he added.

The state election office can’t take the decision on Panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir unless gets a nod from the state government in absence of State Election Commission.

The panchayats completed their term in July last year. Elections to panchayats were last held in April-May 2011 during Omar Abdullah led National Conference-Congress regime after a gap of 37 years. The government postponed these polls for several times in the last two years.


(With inputs from KNS)

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