Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to go for urban local bodies (ULB) and panchayat polls in multiple phases in the state from September. The elections in militancy-infested areas of south Kashmir will be held in the last phase after elections in relatively less volatile areas are over.
However, both the Opposition parties — National Conference and Congress — have said that the conditions in Kashmir "don’t appear to be safe" for the contestants.
Governor NN Vohra in his Independence Day speech announced that the ULB polls will be held from September to October, while the panchayat elections will be conducted from October to December.
The state government has decided to hold the polls for the two municipal corporations of Jammu and Srinagar first, and later for the municipal councils and committees of Kashmir. A total of 80 urban local bodies will go for elections from September.
Earlier, after the violence during the elections for Srinagar parliamentary seat, the elections for the South Kashmir parliamentary seat of Anantnag were cancelled.
Around 74 lakh people are eligible to cast votes in the elections, said additional secretary in the office of chief electoral office, Krishan Lal.
He said that the while the number of urban electorate was nearly 16 lakh, the number of rural electorate was 58 lakh. The government will fill up the positions of 35,096 panchs spread over equal number of panch constituencies and 4,490 sarpanchs from the panchayat halqas. Besides that, the members will be elected for 80 urban local bodies.
Lal said that the previous practice has also been that the “elections for the grass root level electoral bodies were held in phases.”
“In 2011, the panchayat elections were held in 16 phases,” he said.
However, National Conference’s Kashmir provincial president, Nasir Aslam Wani, said, “We have been saying for a long time whether conditions are conducive for polls. Governor and his administration must ensure that conditions are safe for the elections. We believe that peaceful atmosphere should be created first in Kashmir so that people are ready for elections.” He added, "There seem to be no conditions for polls. There is need to address the anger of people so that the confidence of people on the institutions is restored.”
Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) vice president, GN Monga, also said that the situation in the state was not feasible for holding the polls. “The mere announcements don’t matter. The state should have to ensure the safety of the candidates and then a free and fear atmosphere. It doesn’t appear that the conditions are safe for holding polls.”
The office of chief electoral officer had recently notified the dates by which the allotment of electorate to different wards of the Municipalities and the two Corporations of Jammu and Srinagar will be made.
The date was fixed as 12 August and has been now been extended by a week to receive and dispose claims and objections. “The electoral rolls which are being revised every year in January by the Election Commission of India were bifurcated into different municipal wards and put up for objections on August 2 and the date has now been extended,” said Lal.
He said that the bifurcation of the electoral rolls for the panchayat polls has also been carried out and they will be put up for objections shortly.
According to police officials though, the incidents of violence have come down in Kashmir. However, in southern part of Valley, youths continue to pour in large numbers in support of Kashmir’s freedom and try to help out militants escape from the cordons.
Updated Date: Aug 15, 2018 21:30 PM