With the election body’s announcement on holding Panchayat elections in the vacant seats of Jammu and Kashmir, two main political parties, National Conference and Congress is unlikely to contest polls citing detention of their leaders.
However the People’s Democratic Party is undecided yet while Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has decided to field candidates in all seats.
J&K Chief Electoral officer Shailendra Kumar made the announcement on Thursday and declared the dates for Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
He also said elections will be contested on party basis.
Close to 60 per cent of the total Panchayat seats in Kashmir remained vacant even after the last Panchayat elections due to lack of participation in the electoral process.
“Our leaders are in jails. I am also put under house arrest in Jammu. There is no reach for us to reach places in Kashmir where these polls are being held. No security is being provided then how can we contest polls,” J&K Congress chief G A Mir said.
Mir said that unless and until they will not release the leadership and other senior party workers from the detention the party will not contest the by poll panchayat elections. He further said that 75% of panchayat elections has also done and rest 25 percent election our party will put the decision on the people.
Seconding Mir, another Congress leader G N Monga said that there was security only for BJP leaders.
“Leaders from other parties are either house arrest or behind bars,” Monga said.
National Conference Senior leader and provisional Secretary Showkat Mir said that they won’t contest upcoming Panchayat by polls because it not possible at the time when the president of the national conference is under detention. He further said that 11000 total number of panchayats are vacant, and NC wont contest the election until their leaders will not be released.
“These elections are only for participation of BJP. Our leaders are behind bars. How can we contest these polls,” he asked.
Senior PDP leader Nizamuddin Bhat said that they were not able to meet leaders to take a decision on polls.
“I can say anything only when we meet. We are trying to contact our leaders but we are not able to meet. Some of our senior leaders are in jails,” Bhat said.
Senior BJP leader Ashok Koul however said they will fully participate in these polls. “We are hopeful of winning all the seats,” Koul said.
Koul on Sunday also arrived in Kashmir to launch an election campaign for these polls.
BJP spokesperson Altaf Thakur told KNS they will field candidates in all seats. “We are hopeful of winning all these seats,” Thakur said.
The Panchayat elections will be held in eight phases in March.
Hundreds of politicians including the Abdullahs and Mehbooba Mufti were detained or arrested in August as part of the centre’s massive clampdown after its decision to end special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the constitution and split it into two union territories.
The Panchayat elections were conducted in November-December 2018 for 4483 Panchayats with a Sarpanch for each Panchayat Halqa and 35029 Panches in Jammu and Kashmir.
In Kashmir out of 20093 Panch and Sarpanch seats, only 6162 Panches and 1366 Sarpanches were elected in the polls while 12565 constituencies have remained vacant.
In Jammu, 15800 Panches and 2289 Sarpanches were elected where 166 seats have remained vacant. While in Ladakh, 45 seats are vacant where 1414 Panches and 192 Sarpanches were elected.
National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party boycotted the polls.
Elections for Block Development Council were also conducted in Jammu and Kashmir.(KNS).