|ISHTIYAQ AHMAD |
EARLY TIMES REPORT
SRINAGAR, Sept 25: The Election authorities here in the Union territory of Jammu will soon finalise the poll schedule for vacant Panchayat seats.
On Wednesday, the Administrative Council (AC) headed by Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, has approved the proposal of the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj to issue a notification for conducting elections to vacant Sarpanch/Panch constituencies.
Sources told early times that Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) has a mandate “to draw a detailed schedule for conduct of elections to vacant panchayats across the Union Territory on the basis of inputs from various quarters and the assessment of the ground-level security situation.
Sources said that the schedule for holding the elections is being worked out and dates shall be announced by the Chief Electoral Officer soon, they added and said, ”the Election Authority might begin the poll process from plain areas in the next month and hold elections in higher reaches in last couple of phases by the end of this year.
Sources said that the step to hold the polls has been taken to restore democracy fully at the grass-roots level.
It will be the first elections in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into union territories in August last year.
Sources said that the central as well as the Union territory government is very keen to hold these elections.
Earlier, general elections to 39,521 Sarpanch/Panch constituencies in 4,483 Halqa Panchayats were conducted in 2018 of which 13,257 positions are vacant due to resignation, removal, election of Sarpanch as BDC Chairpersons, death, and non-availability of candidates at the time of election. Among them, 1,089 vacancies pertain to the office of Sarpanch, whereas 12,168 are Panch vacancies. The 2018 polls to the local bodies had witnessed poor participation with two major regional political parties- the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) boycotting it. The by-election to more than 12,500 panchayat seats was scheduled to be held in eight phases from March 5 this year, however the elections were postponed due to security reasons.
The BJP is the only party in the state that backs elections at this time. The other major parties, the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party had opposed holding the polls in the New Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir has not had an elected government since the PDP-BJP coalition government fell apart in June 2018.