Panchayat polls to miss March deadline

Panchayat polls to miss March deadline
  • Polls not held since June 2016
  • Rural dev min announces polls will be held in March
  • Govt will lose Rs 3,117 crore Panchayat funds if polls not held
  • Panchayati Raj Act 2011 enjoins state governments to set up a state election commission. It will ensure timely polls

SRINAGAR: The overdue Panchayat polls scheduled for next month are going to miss another deadline as the exercise for reorganisation of the panchayat wards is incomplete.
According to state poll body, the elections would now be held in April instead of March as announced earlier by the government.
The Chief Electoral Officer, Shantmanu, told Kashmir Reader that the process of panchayat reorganisation was likely to be completed by March 15 after which poll announcement would be made.
“The polls will be held in mid-April as we are in the process of creation of new panchayat wards and electoral rolls,” he said.
Currently, the poll body has sought public objections on reorganisation of Halqa Panchayats and creation of new wards.
“After the process for new panchayat halqas is completed, we can take a final decision. Subsequently, we can issue a notification for the poll which will be likely held in mid April,” said Shantmanu.
Prior to the notification, however, the government would seek clearance from security establishment. It has been learnt that by-polls to two Lok Sabha seats, Srinagar and Anantnag, vacated by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Tariq Hameed Karra last year would also be held in April. In that case it is unlikely that the security establishment would grant nod to holding the massive poll exercises simultaneously especially given the threat emerging from rising militancy in the Valley.
Also, the polls would coincide with the tourism season which begins from late March and insiders say the government would have to think twice before conducting the polls as the Valley is already reeling under economic stress after the last year’s six month shutdown.
Polls to 4,098 panchayats are to be held after every five years. The term of the last panchayats expired in 2016 making the fresh polls long overdue. The absence of panchayats not only prevents the decentralisation of power, but also blocks the money budgeted for them.