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Fate of panchayat, ULB polls undecided

Srinagar, Sep 7: The uncertainty looms large over holding of urban local bodies and panchayat polls in the state, as major political parties are unsure about their participation in the elections.

On August 31, the state government, headed by Governor Satya Pal Malik, had announced the long-pending panchayat and urban elections in the state beginning October 1 and culminating on December 4.

 

It was decided that the municipal elections would be held in four phases from October 1 to October 5, while panchayat polls would be conducted in eight phases from November 8 to December 4.

However, there has been an uncertainty over holding of polls as major political parties are unsure about participating in polls.  An official at Chief Electoral Office told The Kashmir Monitor that they were yet to fix the dates for the ULB polls.

“The election body is yet to decide about going ahead with the polls as major political parties are unlikely to participate,” the official said.

Joint Chief Electoral Officer, Raman Kumar Kesar, said that they have not fixed the dates for the polls.

“We don’t know when the notification will be issued. Only Chief Electoral Officer can comment on this,” he said.

Asked about it, Chief Electoral Officer, Shaleen Kabra, refused to comment.

The National Conference has announced to boycott the elections to panchayat and ULB in the state unless the Centre clarifies its position on Article 35A of the Constitution, which is facing legal challenge in the Supreme Court.

The People’s Democratic Party also held a meeting under Mehbooba Mufti where a consensus evolved that the situation was not conducive for elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

After the meeting, PDP chief spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir said his party wanted wider consultations on various issues including 35 A before going for the upcoming panchayat and urban local bodies polls in the state.

Congress is expected to take a decision in a meeting scheduled to be held on Monday.

However, All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (JKPC), and BJP want that polls shall be held on the scheduled time.

The ULB polls were held in J&K after a span of 23-years in January 2005.

However, the civic polls could not be held since 2011 despite the successive governments set up several deadlines about holding the elections.

The Panchayats completed their term in July 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. The government postponed these polls for several times in the last three years.