Despite Boycott, GoI To Go Ahead With Local Polls

NEW DELHI — Notwithstanding the boycott announced by the National Conference (NC), the PDP and other parties, the Centre is likely to go ahead with the panchayat and urban local bodies elections in Jammu and Kashmir as it feels that grassroots democracy must get precedence over any other consideration, officials said on Wednesday.

The Central Government is also of the opinion that the release of around Rs 4,300 crore meant for the development of rural and urban areas in Jammu and Kashmir will not be possible until there are elected representatives in panchayat and urban local bodies.

“The Central Government feels that elections to the panchayats and urban local bodies must be held because strengthening of grassroots democracy is important as it takes care of local development issues like power, roads and water,” a senior Government functionary said.  

Referring to the security issues, the official said adequate protection will be given to each candidate and the Jammu and Kashmir administration has enough security personnel at its disposal.

Around 24,000 paramilitary personnel, who were deployed during the Amarnath Yatra, have been asked to stay on in the the state and they would be deployed for the panchayat and urban local bodies polls in addition to other available security personnel.

The election to the urban local bodies were last held in 2005 and to panchayats in 2011 after a long hiatus.

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 regional National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have already announced boycott of these polls.

The Congress has also said that currently, the ground situation in the Valley is not conducive for holding these polls.

Polls on schedule: CS

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam on Wednesday denied reports that the upcoming municipal and panchayat elections are likely to be deferred.

Scotching earlier reports that the Governor’s administration is considering deferment of the polls, the Chief Secretary said: “Municipal and Panchayat polls will be held as per schedule.”

Subrahmanyam was speaking to the media on the sidelines of an official function in Srinagar on Wednesday.

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