SRINAGAR: The Governor’s administration on Thursday constituted state and division level committees to prepare for the much-delayed elections to Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies (ULB). Panchayat elections are due since July 2016 and ULB elections were last held in January-February 2005. Neither the National Conference-Congress government nor the PDP-BJP government made any efforts to hold municipal elections, though the Mehbooba Mufti government did announce panchayat polls in February 2018, a plan that did not materialise.
An order was issued today by Hilal Ahmad, Commissioner Secretary to the Government, asking both the divisional committees for Jammu and Kashmir to submit their report on preparations for Panchayat polls by July 27. The state level committee was asked to submit its report by August 10.
The committees have been asked to “draw a road map and detailed schedule for conduct of Elections to Urban Local Bodies and Panchayats across the State, on the basis of inputs from the Divisional Level Committees and an assessment of the ground level situation taking into consideration security, logistical, personnel, equipment and all other requirements.”
“Based on an assessment of manpower, security, logistical transport, equipments and all other requirements, the Divisional Level Committees shall submit an outline of the possibilities and constraints to the State Level Committee,” it added.
One reason for planning panchayat elections is the collapse of the BJP-PDP coalition government. The saffron party had cited the “security situation” as responsible for the break-up. It said that Governor’s Rule can bring the state back on track. The preparation of panchayat elections is seen as a step towards that getting back on track.
The last time panchayat elections were held in Jammu & Kashmir was in 2011. They were held after a gap of nearly 30 years. About 4,130 sarpanches and 29,719 panch constituencies went to the polls last time.
Election Commission officials in the state have said they are ready for holding panchayat elections, and are awaiting the government’s nod.