Panchayat elections in J&K commence from 15 Feb 2018

TNN Bureau. Updated: 12/26/2017 1:09:57 AM Front Page

CM briefs Governor, dates likely to be announced during budget session

JAMMU: Pending for over one and half year, the state government on Monday decided to hold the much-awaited elections for around 4500 Panchayats in state starting from February next year.
The decision to commence the panchayat elections from February 15, 2018, was conveyed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to Governor N N Vohra during her hour-long meeting with him on Monday, while the governor is likely to make a formal announcement in this regard during his address to the joint state legislature on January 2 while the detailed schedule for elections are also likely to announced by Panchayat Minister Abdul Haq Khan during the budget session in the assembly.
The significant decision has come around one and a half month after Governor N N Vohra had assented to the promulgation of Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, thus calling for conducting these elections at the earliest.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Muft, who met Governor Vohra today, is believed to have formally requested the latter to announce the decision of holding panchayat elections during his address to the joint session of state legislature which is beginning on January 2 in Civil Secretariat in winter capital.
The panchayat elections were scheduled last year after the term of last elected panchayat bodies came to an end in July 2016, but could not be held due to the troubled atmosphere following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani that month.
Governor Vohra, who has been repeatedly emphasizing the crucial importance of there being no further delay in holding Panchayat elections for the establishment of the three-tiered framework of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI), on November 4 went ahead and approved the urgent promulgation of Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, that too during the Darbar Move recess- where such moves have not been made usually.
Governor’s move of empowered the State Chief Electoral Officer Shaheen Kabra to determine and de-limit halqa panchayats and to conduct the Panchayat elections had come around a week after the union government had asserted in October that there was no possibility to hold the elections- which were scheduled to be held in mid-2016-in immediate future in view of regular incidents of terrorist attacks on security forces and innocent citizens.
It may be recalled that the Governor, in discussions with the Chief Minister since summer 2016 has been pressing for the early conduct of elections to both the urban and rural self-governing bodies.
In the middle of November, the State Government had formally written to the State Election Commission to hold Panchayat polls in the State after completing all requisite formalities like publication of electoral rolls, notification of reserved Wards, polling stations, deployment of staff etc.
As per the updated electoral rolls, a total of 57 electorates will be polling for panchs in their respective panchayats.
Pertinently, the elections will be held on 4500 panchayats as compared to 4166 in 2011. Out of 334 newly carved out Panchayats, 165 have been increased in Jammu division and 169 in Kashmir division, the latter including Ladakh region too.
These elections will be held on non-party basis, with each candidate contesting the election for Panch segment as an Independent candidate. These elected Panches will then elect Sarpanch for the concerned panchayat, a departure from the process of direct election of Sarpanches, like 2011.

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