November 2017 News

Ordinance Paves Way For J&K Panchayat Poll

4 November 2017
The Tribune (Chandigarh)

Srinagar: Governor NN Vohra today promulgated the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, paving the way for the much-awaited panchayat elections. Panchayats in state completed their five-year term in June 2016. The village elections were last held in 2011 when Omar Abdullah headed an NC-Congress coalition government in the state. When contacted, Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra said the delimitation process had already been completed. Governor Vohra had been emphasising that the elections be held without further delay and a three-tier framework for Panchayati Raj Institutions put in place to ensure 'effective participation' of the people in the decision-making process. The panchayat elections are envisaged to be held this winter. The State Election Commission (SEC) completed the delimitation exercise in March this year, adding 280 panchayats and 4,000 panch segments. Prior to that, there were 4,098 panchayats, including 2,145 in the Kashmir Division (including Ladakh) and 1,953 in Jammu. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti wrote on her Twitter account that the Centre must honour Article 370 of the Constitution that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was a commitment to the people of the state. The Chief Minister's tweet comes in the wake of the debate over revocation of Article 370 and Article 35-A (related to special rights and special provisions) that was recently deferred for hearing by the Supreme Court. In another tweet, the CM said: 'Democracy is a battle of ideas and dialogue is the only way forward.' It was an obvious reference to the appointment of Dineshwar Sharma as the Centre's interlocutor to hold talks with all stakeholders in the state. Separatist leaders have rejected the offer, saying mainstream parties like the PDP have no role in the resolution of the Kashmir issue.