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Jammu Kashmir

Posted at: Aug 25, 2019, 6:56 AM; last updated: Aug 25, 2019, 6:56 AM (IST)

State plans to hold elections to block councils by Sept-end

State plans to hold elections to block councils by Sept-end

Arteev Sharma

Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 24

Notwithstanding challenging circumstances post-revocation of state’s special status, the Jammu and Kashmir Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Department has been planning to complete the process of holding first-ever elections to block development councils (BDCs) by the end of September.

The preparations for elections, including the process of publication of electoral college and inviting objections regarding reservations, to BDCs, which constitute second tier of Panchayati Raj system, have slowed down since August 5 due to restrictions in Kashmir Valley and communication blackout.

“Our preparations are still in progress. The first step to conduct reservation exercise has been completed in the Kashmir valley and is in the last stage in Jammu. The department is approaching the Chief Electoral Officer’s office for holding early elections and if all goes well, we are hopeful of completing the entire exercise by the end of September,” Sheetal Nanda, Commissioner-Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department, told The Tribune.

The elections would be held to 316 BDCs across J&K, including 147 in Jammu region, 136 in Kashmir and 31 in Ladakh. The government has announced 33 per cent reservation for women besides SCs as per their population. A total of 105 BDCs will be reserved for women.

The state government turned serious on holding BDCs elections after Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address to the nation on August 8 had called upon Governor Satya Pal Malik to expedite process for the conduct of elections to the BDCs.

Accordingly, the Governor’s administration decided to complete the process of BDCs elections in August, but the current situation spurned this idea, causing “unwarranted delay”.

This is for the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir that the government is eyeing to hold BDCs elections. Though the same process was initiated by the then Omar Abdullah-led government in 2012, the process was shelved at the eleventh hour following objections raised by senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on no reservation in the BDCs.

Out of a total of 4,483 panchayats in the state, there were 2,135 in Kashmir out of which 1,057 panchayats couldn’t be constituted for want of quorum.

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