Srinagar, Sep 25: Amid poll-boycott, the government on Tuesday claimed that people are “enthusiastic” for participating in the civic elections in the state.
“People are enthusiastically waiting for urban local bodies and panchayat elections in the state. Over 700 nomination forms have already been issued for municipal polls. People want to participate in polls for strengthening of the grassroots level,” Chief Secretary, B V R Subrahmanyam, told a press conference here.
The government has announced holding of 4-phase urban local bodies and 9-phase panchayat elections in the state. The Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls would be held on October 8, 10, 13 and 16 while panchayat polls would be held on November 17, 20, 24, 27, 29 and December 1, 04, 08 and 11.
Two main regional parties, the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have decided to boycott the elections as they have asked the Government of India to clear its stand on the issue of Article 35A. The Hurriyat has also called for poll-boycott.
Over threats by militants, the Chief Secretary said that government would make adequate security arrangements for the polls.
“Around 400 security companies are being brought from outside for the polls. There are security issues in few areas of south Kashmir but government will take care,” he said.
Subrahmanyam said that state would face a huge loss of centre’s grant; if the polls are not held. “Under 14th Finance Commission, the panchayats will lose Rs 3,029 crore and urban local bodies Rs 1,306 between 2015 and 2020, if the elections are not held in the state,” he said.
Similarly, he said that there are 79 urban local bodies and 1200 wards.
“Each panchayat has to get around Rs 22 lakh, smaller ones Rs 15 lakh and bigger ones Rs 30 lakh. Under 14th Finance Commission, each panchayat will get Rs 50 lakh to one crore each. Similarly, each municipality will get Rs 2 crore and even larger municipalities like Srinagar and Jammu will get Rs 15 crore. They will be more powerful bodies,” he said.
The Chief Secretary also announced one month additional salary to all the government employees who will be on poll duty.
Over safety of candidates, he said that government has booked 300 hotel rooms in Srinagar and similar arrangements would be made in other districts too. “We will provide them all facilities like vehicles and security,” he said.
He said each Panchayat will have an accountant for keeping books while an Ombudsman will be appointed for transparency and accountability.
Chief Secretary said there are 4,490 Panchayats in the state and as many Sarpanches are to be elected. The total number of Panchs in the state will be 35,000. There will be around 39,500 elected representatives in these Panchayats, he said.
Subrahmanyam also said that there are 79 urban local bodies and about 1200 wards — 600 each in Kashmir and Jammu region.
On the poll-boycott by NC and PDP, he said, “Governor Rule cannot decide the Article 35A. It is a complex issue and has to be discussed after government is elected in JK. The hearing is in January and the elections will be over then.”
“As far as Article 35-A is concerned, the Governor (Satya Pal Malik) has gone on record multiple times and he has clearly said that this is not an elected government and it would be right if an elected government within the state actually fights the case in the Supreme Court,” he said.
He said there was no link between the timing of holding panchayat elections in the state and deferment of hearing of the PIL challenging Article 35-A before the Supreme Court.
“There have been multiple postponements of the hearings of Article 35-A in the Supreme court before and after the panchayat elections were announced. It is just accidental that the case is listed in January and the panchayat elections are to be completed before that,” he said.
The Chief Secretary said the Governor’s administration is going to be consistent in its stand before the apex court that an elected state government should fight the case.
Asked when the assembly polls will be held in the state, the Chief Secretary said let higher authorities decide it.
The Urban Local Body (ULB) polls will be conducted in four phases starting October 8, whereas the Panchayat polls will be held in 9-phases from November 17. He said the notifications for all the eight Phases of Municipal Polls have already been issued by the Chief Electoral Officer, J&K which would be now followed with notifications for Panchayat Polls.
Another Panchayat ghar set on fire; 8th such incident in valley
Srinagar, Sep 25: A panchayat ghar was set on fire in Bandipora district of Jammu and Kashmir, taking the number of such government buildings being torched since the announcement of the local bodies polls in the state to eight, police said Tuesday.
“Unknown miscreants tried to set ablaze a panchayat ghar at Matrigam Tikri in the Pehthkote area of Banipora district in north Kashmir Monday,” a police official said.
He said the fire resulted in partial damage to the building.
Fire tenders were rushed to the spot as soon as the news of the incident was received, the official said.
He said this was the eighth such incident in which a panchayat ghar has been set on fire since the polls for municipal bodies and panhcayats were announced in the state.
Most of these buildings were set on fire in south Kashmir, the official said, adding that the police have registered cases in all the incidents and investigations were on.
Separatists and militants have asked people to stay away from the polls, which have also been boycotted by the state’s two main political parties – the National Conference and the PDP – and also by the CPI(M).
The violence has also cast a shadow on the polls, scheduled to be held in October and November, respectively.
Three cops were abducted and later killed by militants in Shopian district of south Kashmir, following which several special police officers (SPOs) of Jammu and Kashmir announced their resignation on social media.
Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh and the valley’s top army official Lt Gen A K Bhatt Monday reviewed the security situation ahead of the polls at a meeting at Handwara in Kupwara district of the state.
The senior security officials emphasised that the existing cooperation and synergy between different forces is to be further strengthened to combat militancy and also to ensure smooth conduct of the local governance elections. (PTI)
Upcoming elections: BJP banks on ‘some friends’ in JK
Jammu, Jan 20: BJP general secretary Ram Madhav on Sunday said while his party would most likely go it alone in the upcoming Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections, it would form a “stable government with some friends” in the state after the polls.
He said his party would contest all seats in the state.
“There is the least possibility of a pre-poll alliance with any party for the assembly elections in the state. The BJP will emerge (as) the largest party after the elections and will give a stable government to the people with some friends,” Madhav told reporters here.
Due to the special circumstances in the state, “we have no hesitation in joining hands with others” to form the government, he said.
Talking about the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) erstwhile ruling alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he said, “After elections we formed an alliance, but today again the BJP is going it alone in the elections.”
The BJP leader said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will kick start the party’s campaign for upcoming parliamentary and assembly polls in the state during his visit on February 3.
“While the parliamentary elections are scheduled for April-May, the BJP is ready for the assembly polls in the state as well. It is up to the Election Commission to decide whether the two polls are held together or separately,” Madhav said.
The Election Commission had in November last said fresh elections in Jammu and Kashmir would be held within the next six months. The state is currently under President’s rule.
Madhav dismissed allegations that the BJP did not favour assembly polls in the state.
“There is no truth in the rumours being spread that the BJP is not in favour of early assembly polls in the state,” he said.
He claimed some other parties wanted the polls to be deferred as they feared losing.
Asked about the PDP expelling former minister Altaf Bukhari, Madhav said, “I don’t want to talk about internal matters of another political party, but I must underscore one point here that he is the same leader who was projected as the chief minister of the combined opposition when they (PDP, Congress and National Conference) were trying to form the government in the state just a couple of months ago.”
Speaking about rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, Madhav said the BJP has prepared a roadmap for the community’s return and rehabilitation and it will be implemented only when the situation in the Valley turns conducive.
“We had identified land at five places in the Valley for pandit townships. But due to various reasons, it could not materialize, the biggest being the prevailing security situation in the Valley,” he said.
The BJP leader said the party was bound by its promise to Kashmiri Pandits and when the situation improves, it will take the community’s leadership into confidence and move forward.
PM to visit JK on Feb 3; BJP expects 2 lakh turnout in Jammu rally
Jammu, Jan 20: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Jammu and Kashmir on February 3 to lay the foundation stone for and inaugurate various projects in all three regions of the state, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said on Sunday.
He said Modi will lay the foundation stone for and inaugurate projects worth Rs 35,000 crore and Rs 9,000 crore in Jammu and Kashmir, respectively, during his visit.
“The prime minister is visiting the state next month and will visit Leh, Jammu and Srinagar. He will address a mega rally in Jammu in which over two lakh people are expected to turn up,” Madhav told reporters here.
He said Modi will lay the foundation stone for AIIMS, IIM, IIT, Jammu-Akhnoor road, Shahpur-Kandi road, Sunderbani College, and IIMC in Jammu during his visit.
The prime minister will also inaugurate an engineering college in Kathua and the Jammu ropeway project, he added.
Responding to a question, the BJP general secretary said, “We tried to take forward many projects being part of the previous government, like AIIMS. It was due to our efforts that we brought one AIIMS for Jammu even when in rest of the country only one AIIMS was given to each state.”
Madhav alleged that several projects were delayed due to the Peoples Democratic Party — the BJP’s coalition partner in the erstwhile state government.
“We undertook many projects like this. However, the coalition partner used to slow down the process, otherwise it could have been done earlier,” he said.
He said the BJP will continue its efforts to ensure all-round development in the three regions of the state.
The party was also making efforts to ensure reservation for the Pahari speaking people and divisional status for the region of Ladakh, Madhav said.
“We are making a demand to the governor administration to grant reservation to the Pahari people, who are mostly residing in Jammu, and the divisional status to Ladakh before the prime minister’s visit to the state,” he said.
He asked party leaders and workers to work hard for to make Modi’s visit successful.
Tribal, minority community being targeted in Jammu: Mehbooba
Srinagar, Jan 20: People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti Sunday expressed serious concerns over the selective targeting of the tribal Muslim community in Jammu Division.
Highlighting instances of how the community is being targeted and harassed, Mehbooba, during a presser here, asked the governor’s administration to take immediate measures to restore the confidence of this vulnerable community in the system.
She said that selective eviction notices were served to 33 nomadic families in Jammu after the collapse of government and as recent as December 2018, an anti-encroachment drive against Gujjar and other marginalized Muslim families in Jammu was initiated.
All this despite existing directives issued by her as CM in February 2018, whereby no tribal community was supposed to be disturbed or dislocated till the time the state government formulated a tribal policy.
The directive had also said that if any such an eviction drive was necessary, it should be done after consulting the tribal affairs department.
Mehbooba said that Muslims of Jammu are being openly threatened by communally motivated campaign such as “Ikk Jutt Jammu Maha Adhiveshan (The Save Jammu Crusade)”.
“These drives talk about the dangers posed to the people of Jammu from the growth of Muslim colonies in and around Jammu, and how it is a concerted effort to change its demography. These are reflective of the mindset of the perpetrators of such bigotry,” she said.
“These extremist elements have created fear among fresh settlers by physically targeting individuals in isolated incidents so that they don’t plan permanent settling in Jammu. This is what they have done during the past as well,” she said.
She pointed out that that circle rates in Sunjwan Bathindi areas have been raised to 1.5 crore per kanal while as in chawadi it is 65 lakh per kanal. This, she said, has been done is a deliberate attempt to make purchase of land in areas being inhabited by Muslim in particular difficult.
“Attempts are being made to include all Muslim areas under Jammu municipality so that constructions are stopped on all non-proprietary land and without permission,” she added.
She said that PDP will do “everything to voice their concerns and highlight any bias and marginalization perpetrated by the state”.
She warned the government that giving in to communal designs is like playing with fire in an already politically fragile state.
“Any tinkering with the minorities in Jammu will have a cascading effect in Kashmir and the situation can go out of control. The governor administration must, therefore, be cautious in dealing with this matter,” she said.
Mahagathbandhan alliance of corruption, negativity: PM
Margao (Goa), Jan 20: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday dismissed the Opposition’s show of unity at a rally in Kolkata as an alliance of corruption, negativity and instability, saying while those parties have “money power”, the BJP has “people’s power”.
He also said that seats in educational institutes will be increased to implement the 10 per cent general category quota.
Modi was addressing BJP’s booth-level workers from Lok Sabha constituencies of Kolhapur, Hatkanangle, Madha and Satara in Maharashtra and South Goa through video-conference.
Leaders from over a dozen opposition parties gathered in Kolkata on Saturday and vowed to put up a united fight in the coming Lok Sabha elections and oust Modi from power.
Several opposition leaders at the rally demanded the use of ballot papers instead of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) which, they said, were the source of “all sorts of malpractices”.
Modi said the Opposition was staring at a defeat in forthcoming elections and looking for excuses ahead of their impending loss and thus, were vilifying EVMs.
“You must have seen that one of the leaders who was sharing the dais recalled the Bofors scam. Truth cannot be kept hidden. The Opposition’s mahagathbandhan is an alliance of capitalists, corruption, scams, negativity and instability,” he said.
“The Opposition has ‘dhanshakti’ (money power), we have ‘janshakti’ (people’s power),” he added.
Replying on the query from a booth worker in Kolhapur, Modi said while the Opposition alliance is with political parties, “our alliance is with the dreams of 125 crore Indians and their hopes and aspirations”.
“Those who were on the dais in Kolkata were either son or daughter of a big person or who wanted to make his son or daughter big in politics,” he alleged.
Those who never believed in democracy within their parties were now talking about democracy from a public platform, he said, taking a dig at the Opposition’s rally.
He said such people do not have faith in any institution and are busy defaming constitutional authorities.
“We get worried when some groups take people for granted. They think people are fools. That is why they don’t leave any stone unturned to change their colour… I would like to repeat, this is a dangerous game for the country and a thing to worry about,” Modi commented.
“While on one hand they are busy saving or nurturing their own families, we are busy developing a nation. Our country is our family… Those who start violence against the person contesting against them even at panchayat level, are now singing songs of protecting democracy,” he said.
Modi said the Centre’s decision to provide quota to the economically weaker sections from the general category in education and government jobs has given “sleepless nights” to the Opposition.
“If our decision had no strength, then these people would not have had sleepless nights. They have to get down in the field to spread lies and rumours. This means we have done right work and worked for the country,” he said.
Seeking to allay concerns about lack of seats in educational institutes to accommodate the new quota provision, he said, “I would like to assure that we will increase 10 per cent seats in every educational institution so that despite reservation, everyone will get an opportunity.”
He said the government would ensure that no one faced injustice and that the quota for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes remain intact.
“But with (the new) 10 per cent reservation, new opportunities have been opened up,” the PM asserted.
The government has worked rising above the political interests. “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas has been the focus of our style of functioning,” he said.
He said the BJP had taken such a “historic step” that if any party had to make such a move without researching the Constitution, he would have himself criticised it.
“After researching the Constitution, we made 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker section. They (opposition) have not done anything for social injustice. When we did it, they were caught napping,” he said.
These people are still “unconscious”. When the government has taken a historical step for the larger good of people, it is natural for them to oppose, he said.
“Those who say that I took the decision keeping polls in mind, I want to ask them, when do we not have elections in the country,” the PM questioned.
He said if he had to take the decision three months ago, then people would have claimed he did it keeping in mind elections in five states.
“If I did it before, they would have said I did it for the Karnataka elections, before that they would have said I did it to get benefit in Gujarat elections,” the PM noted.
Before starting the interaction with people of Goa, Modi wished ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar a speedy recovery and called him the “architect of modern Goa”.
“I would like to wish my good friend and Goa’s popular CM and architect of modern Goa, Manohar Parrikar, a speedy recovery. The way he has been working and his zeal towards work has been an inspiration for a party worker like me,” he said.
Appealing BJP workers to strengthen the booths, Modi said the party has given respect to the word ‘worker’.
“Due to earlier governments, the image of a worker was that of a ‘dalal’ (middleman). But, the image of BJP workers is that of ‘maa Bharati ke lal’ (patriots),” he added.