July 2018 News

State Exploring Options To Hold Panchayat Polls In Sept

17 July 2018

New Delhi: The state is exploring the possibility of holding the panchayat elections in September-October after Governor NN Vohra directed the administration to prepare the ground for the polls, officials said on Tuesday. The initiative has been taken in view of the 2011 experience when a record 80 per cent people voted in the panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir despite continuing unrest due to militancy. The state administration is preparing the ground for the panchayat polls, a senior government official said on the condition of anonymity. Another official privy to the development said the elections had to be held before the onset of winter and September-October was the possible window for carrying out the exercise. The panchayat elections for 4,130 sarpanch and 29,719 panch constituencies were last held in 2011 after a gap of nearly four decades. The polls to the local bodies were supposed to be held in 2016 but could not be conducted due to the five-month-long unrest in the Kashmir valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8 that year. The Central government will provide all assistance, including adequate security, to the state administration, which is under the Governor rule after the collapse of the PDP-BJP government. The failure to hold the byelections in the Anantnag parliamentary constituency for more than two years would not be a deterrent as the panchayat elections, which are vital to the grass-roots democracy, would be held across the state covering the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, the official said. Reports said the Jammu and Kashmir State Election Commission was ready to hold the panchayat polls and was awaiting for the state administration's nod. Earlier this month, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and national security adviser Ajit Doval, during their visit to the Kashmir valley, also pressed for the conduct of the panchayat elections, the official said.