Panchayat Polls: ‘About 200 former Panchs not to contest’
Srinagar, Nov 2: A valley-based Panch body claims that, at least, 200 formerly-elected candidates would not contest the upcoming Panchayat polls due to the prevailing situation. In nine phases, the Panchayat polls for 35,029 Panch constituencies in 4,483 Panchayat Halqas of the state will commence November 17. So far, the state government has issued notification for two phases. President Jammu and Kashmir Awami Raj Movement, Ghulam Hassan Panzoo, claimed that the Panchayat polls this year would see less participation of the people. “Situation has changed drastically, if we compare it to the previous elections held in 2011. As per our estimates, some 200-300 panchs will prefer to stay away from the polls this time,” he said. Panzoo said the torching of Panchayat Ghars in the last few months and low voter turnout in municipal polls has “distressed” many candidates. “Still, there are some willing to contest elections. The Governor-led administration did a good job by deciding to hold Panchayat elections on non-party basis in the state,” he said. Panzoo said majority of the candidates are miffed with the government over non-fulfillment of its commitments since 2011. “Whatever announcements were made in 2011 have not been implemented on ground. Even the monthly Rs 2,000 honorarium, which is too meagre, has been stopped for the last 21 months now,” he said. At least 16 Panchayat members have been killed in Kashmir since 2011, while 30 were injured by unidentified gunmen so far. This year nearly a dozen Panchayat Ghar have been set on fire by unidentified across the valley. Considering prevailing situation in the valley, the candidates across the valley have decided to avoid campaigning in their respective villages. Chairman All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC), Shafiq Mir, said the candidates would go for a “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. Police has also accepted that panchayat polls will be more challenging for them.