Panchayat polls put on hold, decision after all-party meeting

Panchayat polls put on hold, decision after all-party meeting
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SRINAGAR: The Mehbooba Mufti government has decided to hold an all-party meeting before announcing a date for panchayat polls in the state. The cabinet met in Jammu on Monday and the government issued a statement that it would seek opinion of all political parties before announcing the dates.
Earlier, the government had announced the polls, which have been overdue since 2016, in February this year.
Revenue and Parliamentary Affairs minister Abdul Rehman Veeri informed the state assembly today that a date for panchayat elections would be decided after the all-party meeting.
Two weeks ago, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti held a meeting at her Jammu residence in which she asked ruling PDP-BJP legislators to be ready for elections in February or March.
One of the legislators who attended that meeting told Kashmir Reader that the CM was convinced about holding the elections, but now her opinion seems to have been influenced by some of her party’s ministers.
“All the preparations have been made. It is just a matter of holding the elections. The BJP has no issues with it but some of the members of PDP have another opinion. Judging by the cabinet’s decision, it seems she has been influenced by these members,” the legislator said.
One of the militant commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen, Riyaz Nakioo, has warned people to stay away from elections. The legislator said that the PDP’s concern might be because of the militants’ threat in south Kashmir.
The panchayat elections have been hanging since June 2016. First they were delayed due to the 2016 uprising triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, and then due to civilian killings on the day Parliamentary by-polls were held in Srinagar constituency. There has since been no stop to the spree of civilian killings and public protests. The last time panchayat elections were held was in March-April 2011, after a gap of ten years. Those elections had also been delayed due to the anger of people against the government.