Elections to urban local bodies and panchayats will be held in Jammu and Kashmir despite the state being under Governor's Rule after the governor's administration approved a proposal to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989. A report on DNA said a meeting of the State Administrative Council, chaired by Governor NN Vohra, approved the amendments. The elections are likely to be held in October 2018, according to sources. Vohra's advisors BB Vyas, K Vijay Kumar and Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, besides Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam attended the meeting.
Instructions have been issued to all top-level officials and stake-holders have been asked to work out modalities for execution, sources said.
The panchayat polls were scheduled to be held in the state in February this year, but the state government had decided to defer it, saying the situation was not conducive for an electoral exercise. Incidentally, all the major political parties in the state — the Peoples Democratic Party, National Conference and the Congress — had opposed the panchayat polls, while the Bharatiya Janata Party alone was in favour of holding the elections on the proposed dates.
Previous panchayat polls had been held in 2011, while urban local body elections have not taken place in eight years, a report in Hindustan Times said. The report added that this time the situation is different, and the Centre is more certain of holding the polls. "It seems the Centre is now serious in holding these elections and these polls are the first priority over the formation of a new government in the state. The Centre wants to hold these polls under the governor's rule," a top official privy to the plan was quoted as saying in the report.
The state has been under Governor's Rule since 19 June, after the BJP pulled the plug on its alliance partner, the PDP, saying it was becoming "impossible to continue in the state in view of the growing radicalism and terrorism". And it appears that after having the state under Central rule, among the first acts of the BJP will be to hold panchayat polls again. The Hindustan Times report quoted a party legislator as saying they have been asked to be ready. "We have been asked to be ready for panchayat and local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir. We are ready for these polls and will participate in these elections with all our strength. I think these polls could be held within the next two or three months," he said.
A state government spokesperson further told the DNA newspaper that the elections will uphold the primacy and importance of the Sarpanch in the Panchayat Raj system. "This provides stability in the Panchayati Raj system and ensures accelerated development which meets local needs. Direct elections also make the sarpanchs accountable directly to the people rather than to an intermediate group. Further, this amendment brings the spirit of the 73rd constitutional amendment to the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act," he had said.
Updated Date: Jul 13, 2018 16:10 PM