Candidates to skip campaigning in panchayat polls as well
Srinagar, Oct 18: Like municipal polls, the upcoming panchayat elections in Kashmir too will take place without any campaigning. After a delay of more than two years, panchayat polls are going to take place in the state in nine phases starting November 17. While the date of filing of nomination is expected to begin next week, no activity is seen on ground by the candidates willing to contest. Majority of the candidates said they will not hold any sort of campaigning considering current situation in the valley. “The current situation is not allowing us to go for any sort of campaigning. We saw the voter turnout has been low in Kashmir, but government still presented Jammu as face of the state,” Ghulam Hassan Panzoo,President Jammu and Kashmir Awami Raj Movement, a body of former Sarpanch and Panchs, said. “If we started campaigning, our process will become more of a political activity, which ultimately will endanger our lives.” Chairman All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC), Shafiq Mir, told The Kashmir Monitor that the candidates would go for “low-profile campaigning”. “Panchayat poll candidates are mostly known to their respective voters. So, there is no need for a comprehensive campaigning by the candidates,” he said. He, however, said the existing panchayat members from “peaceful areas” could actively work to ask the people for votes. “In calm areas, a Panch will have that flexibility to convince people for casting a vote as per his ideology,” he said. The recent killing of two National Conference (NC) members, followed by the threats from militant groups, has unnerved the candidates especially in south Kashmir. “We know the situation is quite hostile in Kashmir due to which it will be better to avoid any activity related to campaigning. The activities like holding programmes in villages as was seen during 2011 elections, will be skipped by the Panchs,” said a former Panch from south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, who insisted not to be named. “During municipal polls, the influence of boycott call was more seen in south Kashmir. Even we don’t know who will be contesting the panchayat elections from the villages in the entire district,” said a former Panch from Pulwama district.