April 2017 News

Govt May Hold Panchayat Polls In 15 Districts In May

11 April 2017
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Arteev Sharma

Jammu: Unfazed by low voter turnout and large-scale violence in the Srinagar Lok Sabha bypoll, the state election office is contemplating holding the panchayat elections in 15 of the total 22 districts in the second week of May. It, however, is awaiting a formal communication from the state government which had recommended deferring of the Anantnag Lok Sabha bypoll, scheduled for April 12, till the improvement of the situation in the Valley. The panchayat elections in seven districts falling under the Srinagar and Anantnag parliamentary constituencies are proposed to be conducted after completing the exercise in 15 districts of the state and assessing the security situation in both Lok Sabha seats. The 15 districts, where the election authorities are contemplating conducting the elections, comprise 10 districts of the Jammu region, which is relatively peaceful, three districts of north Kashmir (Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora) and Leh and Kargil districts of the Ladakh region. 'We will finalise the electoral rolls for the panchayat elections by April 18 and the notification for the polls can be issued by April 20 if the state government approaches us, showing its intent to conduct the same,' said Shantmanu, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K. The panchayats in J&K had completed the five-year term in June 2016. The elections to the panchayats were due in April-May last year but couldn't be held due to the delay in the government formation in the state. The panchayat elections were last held in 2011. The elections should have been conducted by the end of March but the election authorities deferred the polls and decided to conduct the bypolls to the two Lok Sabha seats of the Valley first. Shantmanu said the election authorities had to give 25 days for campaigning and other exercise. 'Depending on the government's formal communication to us, we are contemplating holding the panchayat elections close to May 15,' he said. Anil Sharma, state chief, All Jammu Kashmir Panchayat Conference, a frontline body of the panchayat members, said people were ready to contest and participate in the election process. 'It's the duty of the state government to create a conducive atmosphere for holding the elections in the state. We fully support the government if it intends to hold the polls. The government will have to ensure that there should be no human loss,' he said, adding, 'The government must be clear that the polls should be held for the larger interests of the people and not to score its own political goals'.