Deliberate attempt to keep opposition away: Cong on panchayat bypoll announcement

Jammu: The Congress on Friday alleged that holding the by-election to panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir was a deliberate attempt to keep the opposition away as no effort was being made for creating a conducive environment for the electoral exercise.
The CPI(M) also said political situation in the union territory was not conducive for holding the by-election to panchayats.
Hitting out at the government for the “undemocratic style of working”, the Congress alleged that it was not bothered about the participation of opposition parties in the bypolls.
“It (bypolls to panchayats) is a deliberate attempt to keep the opposition away from the electoral exercise as no effort in the direction of creating a conducive atmosphere for a meaningful exercise has been conducted by the government,” Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president Gulam Ahmed Mir told reporters here.
By-election to over 12,500 panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir would be held in eight phases from March 5, the Union Territory’s Chief Electoral Officer Shailender Kumar said on Thursday.
Polling would be held from March 5 to March 20 and ballots would be used for casting votes.
Mir said the by-election is being held at a time when no political activity has taken place in the UT, especially in the Valley, since August 5 last year when Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was revoked.
“90 per cent of these vacancies are in the Kashmir Valley where top leaders are either detained or under house arrest,” he said.
He termed the exercise as a “mere eyewash” in the absence of any political activity by opposition parties.
CPI(M) state secretary G N Malik said political situation in Jammu and Kashmir was not conducive for holding the by-elections to panchayats.
“At a time when most of the political leaders are under detention or their movements have been curtailed, such exercise will not yield the desired results,” he said.
Malik said the government should have taken into consideration the ground realities before announcing the schedule for the bypolls to panchayats.

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