Tribune News Service
Jammu, August 14
The prevailing situation post-revocation of state’s special status has cast its shadow over government plans to conduct first-ever elections to 316 Block Development Councils (BDCs) in Jammu and Kashmir.
The elections to BDCs are delayed in spite of the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his Address to the nation on August 8, had called upon J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik to expedite process for conduct of elections to the BDCs, which constitute second-tier to panchayats.
According to the officials, the Governor’s administration had decided to complete the process of BDC elections in August but the current situation spurned this idea and there are now chances of imminent delay for another couple of months for holding these polls.
“The process for conduct of the BDC poll will be set into motion once normalcy and order is restored in J&K as the Valley is still reeling under prohibitory orders since August 5 following abolition of Article 370 and creation of two union territories,” an official said.
“The prevailing situation has caused slight delay in conduct of these polls. We can’t confirm the exact period of delay but we are committed for holding these polls at the earliest,” Sheetal Nanda, Commissioner-Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj department, told The Tribune.
Nanda said they had invited objections with regard to reservations of blocks prior to hold these elections but the objections could not be filed because of prevailing circumstances and Internet blockade. “The decision on timing and schedule of polls is to be taken by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) but we will again hold discussions with them for early conduct of these elections,” she said.
In follow-up to the Prime Minister’s direction, the Governor, on August 10, discussed arrangements for the elections with CEO, Shailendra Kumar, who happens to be the election authority for conduct of BDC elections in the absence of the State Election Commission.
“With the abrogation of Article 370, the provisions of 73rd Amendment have been extended to J&K too. We now want these elections should be held on the pattern of 73rd Amendment and not as per the provisions of J&K Panchayati Raj Act 1989 as earlier planned by the administration,” said Anil Sharma, state president of the All Jammu Kashmir Panchayat Conference.
On March 9, the State Administrative Council (SAC), under the chairmanship of the Governor, had given the approval after issuing the necessary notification in consultation with the CEO for conduct of BDC elections.
The government had also announced 33 per cent reservation for women besides SCs as per their numbers. A total of 105 BDCs will be reserved for women.
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