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Civic Polls in September, Panchayat in November?


Srinagar, Jun 29: New Delhi maybe planning to hold municipal polls “to test the waters” before calling for the Assembly elections in the state. A source in BJP said a day after they ended their ruling alliance with the PDP, the government in New Delhi showed interest in holding ULB and panchayat polls. He said New Delhi intends to hold the ULB and panchayat polls in October and November, respectively. “The Centre wants to test the waters before Parliamentary and Assembly elections. It will depend on the situation in the next few months,” the source said. Governor, N N Vohra, is said to have asked Mehbooba Mufti, when she was in power, to hold panchayat polls in the state. An official of the State Election Commission said it would now be interesting to see whether or not Vohra could create atmosphere for the polls. The official said the BJP’s state unit favoured the civic and panchayat polls to secure funding from New Delhi. “The BJP does not want to further lapse the funds meant for Jammu region,” the official said. Earlier, the PDP-BJP government had announced that panchayat polls would be held from February 15. However, failing to improve the situation, the alliance partners had “mutually agreed” to delay the polls in view of the situation. The PDP’s chief spokesperson, Rafi Ahmad Mir, said the government has to take into consideration the viewpoint of every political party before announcing the polls. “We will present our stand when asked for it. For now, the situation is not conducive for the polls,” Mir said. Senior Congress leader, G N Monga also said the situation was not right for the polls. “Even north Kashmir is no more peaceful. It seems polls won’t be held. It will be foolish on the government’s part to think of holding the polls under the prevailing circumstances,” Monga said. A National Conference leader said that the party has asked the Governor to hold Assembly elections. “All these elections can be held only when there is normalcy in the valley,” the NC leader said. The panchayat elections in J&K have already been delayed since 2016. Elections to Panchayats were last held in April-May 2011 during Omar Abdullah led National Conference-Congress regime after a gap of 37 years.