CEO holds high level meeting, ‘Polls likely in next two months’
Srinagar, Oct 02: The Apex Level committee constituted for conducting preparatory work for bye-elections for Panchayats and Block Development Councils (BDC) in Jammu and Kashmir has submitted its report to the Union Territory government.
The Government had constituted Apex Level Committee headed by the Principal Secretary Home Department while the Director General of Police, Additional Director General of Police (CID), J&K, commissioner secretary transport, department, Divisional commissioner, Kashmir, Jammu were nominated as its members.
Sources told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KNS) that the Apex Level Committee after assessing the ground level situation including security, logistics, personnel, equipment etc, and also the inputs of the Divisional Level Committees has submitted its report to the government.
Sources said that the committee draws a road map for conduct of Elections to vacant Panchayats across the Union Territory.
Director Rural development Kashmir confirmed that the committee has submitted its report to the government. “We are prepared to conduct these elections but the election department will decide the further course of action,” he told KINS.
Meanwhile another official in the rural development department told KINS that the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) held a high level detailed meeting on Friday to discuss the conduct of the bye-elections to the vacant panchayat seats.
KINS tried to contact Hirdesh Kumar, CEO for further details but he did not pick up the phone.
An official at Chief Electoral Officer told KINS that Centre has already told Jammu and Kashmir government to initiate the process for holding elections on vacant Panchayat seats.
“Recently the Chief Electoral Officer also discussed with Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinah about holding elections on vacant Panchayat seats. Polls are likely to be conducted in the next two months,” the official told KNS.
The official said issue is also being discussed with security agencies to ensure adequate security arrangements in place
Recently 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 said that the schedule for holding the elections is being worked out and dates shall be announced by the Chief Electoral Officer soon.
Sources said that the Election Authority might begin the poll process from plain areas in the next month and hold elections in higher reaches in the 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 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 Peoples 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.