PANCHAYAT BYPOLLS CEO calls meeting of political parties today

UMER MAQBOOL. Updated: 2/18/2020 9:39:41 AM Front Page

SRINAGAR: A day after National Conference linked participation in Panchayat by-polls with release of its leaders detained in Kashmir since August 5, chief electoral officer of J&K Shaliendra Kumar has called a meeting with all major political parties on Tuesday in Jammu to discuss the upcoming electoral exercise.
Authoritative sources told The News Now that the CEO has invited all major political forces, including National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party, to participate in the meeting scheduled tomorrow morning at his office in winter capital Jammu.
“The letters have been sent to presidents of all 10 recognised parties – three recognised state parties and seven national recognised parties,” they said, adding that letters have been delivered at NC and PDP’s offices in Jammu.
Interestingly, presidents of both the NC and PDP are in detention under the controversial Public Safety Act.
Other parties including BJP, Congress, Panthers Party have also been invited to the meeting, which is a routine exercise before elections.
The meeting comes at a time when NC has written to chief electoral officer- who is the competent authority for conducting the exercise- that it is practically impossible for the party to participate in election when its top leaders including Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Ali Muhammad Sagar are in detention under PSA.
The party has asked the CEO to advice the party on how these “roadblocks, that have been placed in the way of participation, can be overcome.”
While no leader from National Conference was available to comment on whether the party would attend the meeting, sources disclosed that PDP is likely to participate in the meeting.
The Congress, however, said they have not got any invitation from the CEO’s office.
“I have not received any invitation till this time (9:50 pm),” PCC President Ghulam Ahmad Mir told The News Now.
The Panthers Party confirmed their participation. “We will attend the meeting,” Panthers Party leaders Harshdhev Singh said.
It is worthwhile to mention that CEO has already announced Panchayat by-polls for J&K in eight phases between March 5 to March 20.
The polls are being held to fill over 12650 Sarpanch and Panch berths which remained vacant during the Panchayat polls conducted in 2018 by Governor Satya Pal Malik-led administration.
Of these berths, 97.60 percent are in Kashmir where major political parties NC and PDP had boycotted the 2018 electoral exercise.
The last elections to the panchayats were held in November-December, 2018 in which 22,214 panches and 3,459 sarpanches were returned elected by the respective returning officers out of 33,592 panch and 4,290 sarpanch constituencies in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Further vacancies have accrued on account of deaths and resignations of the elected sarpanches and panches. Also, as a result of elections of chairpersons to BDCs in October last year, another 307 seats of panches and sarpanches fell vacant.

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