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Panchayat polls: Opposition throws ball in Government’s court

Panchayat polls: Opposition throws ball in Government’s court
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Uncertain over the conducting Panchayat polls in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti Sunday chaired an all-party meeting at her Wazarat road residence in Jammu.

Participated by the senior opposition leaders and the ruling party leaders, the meeting sources said discussed at threadbare the possibility of conducting polls in the state. The hitch, they said is the situation of the valley.

File image of All Party Meeting

While legislators from Jammu have stressed to conduct the polls, the valley based leaders have cited various concerns about the situation.

State’s principal opposition party National Conference was led by Secretary-General Ali Muhammad Sagar in the meeting who later talked to media and said  when a process of conducting parliamentary elections was stopped because the government could not conduct elections in Anantnag. Is their situation conducive right now,” he said and added that the ball is in the court of government to decide. “It is their responsibility.”

The firebrand independent lawmaker from Langate while talking about the meeting said the polls should be deferred. However, added that it is the decision for the government to take.”On one side people are dying. The government shuts internet four times a day and there is no forward movement on the issue of Kashmir,” he said and added that last time the panchayat polls held were related to the Kashmir issue and drum was beaten about the participation of the people.” “If you want to the integrity of the state, elections should be deferred,”Rasheed is quoted to have said in the meeting.

Process of polling in Panchayat election (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

Communist leader of the state, Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami echoes the same views. Though he says that his party CPI (M) wants to democratize the governance structure and build but he was quick to add that “it is the responsibility of the government to see whether the situation is conducive for the participation of people or not. “ I think there are few places where it is difficult to have the participation of the people.

Independent lawmaker from Udhampur, Pawan Gupta said elections should take place but the government needs to access the situation in Kashmir. “If the situation is conducive, elections should be conducted.”

Gupta has another reason to see elections postponed by a month. “There are exams in Jammu, I want elections deferred by a month so that there is the participation of teachers as well.”

Senior Congress leader Sham Lal Sharna said that his party is ready for the process f democracy but whether the situation is conducive or not, it is the job of government to ascertain.  “We have told them that safety of people and place is on the shoulders of the government. Congress is  ready for the democratic process.”

 

Earlier a  day former chief minister and NC president Dr. Farooq Abdullah questioned the state government over the holding of Panchayat polls. “The government has been unable to conduct parliament elections on a single seat of Anantnag Parliament constituency. This is just a small part of Kashmir. How can it conduct Panchayat elections in the entire state?” Abdullah questioned while talking to reporters in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district.

The sources privy to the development said that government has decided to put off elections scheduled to be held after February 15.

However, PDP’s senior leader and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdur Rehman Veeri has said in Jammu that a final call on the holding of panchayat polls would be taken by the state cabinet later.

Urging people to stay away from the polls, the separatist triumvirate of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Mohammad Yasin Malik have called for the boycott of the panchayat polls.

A day after resistance leaders asked people to stay away, HM’s Kashmir commander Riyaz Naikoo have also called for the boycott of the polls and has warned of blinding the candidates by pouring acid in their eyes.

“We have been killing people for a long time but it didn’t deter them. Their family gets cash and jobs on humanitarian grounds. This way (by pouring acid into their eyes), they will become a burden for those who want them to contest the election,” Naikoo said in video message apparently referring to another militant.

To this NC working president, Omar Abdullah reacted “if it isn’t pellets it’s acid. One way or the other people are threatened with being blinded.”

Pertinent to mention the panchayat polls were scheduled to be held in 2016 but were deferred due to the volatile situation after the killing of HM commander Burhan Wani.

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