State govt asked to conduct early civic polls

State govt asked to conduct early civic polls

The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to hold early elections for civic bodies and block development councils, given intelligence alert that a Pakistan-based terror outfit is intimidating people against participating in the democratic exercise.

Last April, the National Conference (NC) government had organised panchayat elections after 30 years. But, the state is still to delegate powers to the elected 34,000 sarpanchs and panchayat members. Other than that, the Omar Abdullah government is yet to hold elections for the other two tiers listed under the Panchayati Raj Act – for corporation and Block Development Council.

MHA sources said that IB alert of Lashkar-e-Toiba’s intention to subvert the polls has already been shared with the state government and the delay in allowing people to carry out their right to vote will only provide more opportunity to militants. The writing on the wall is already visible since the reports reaching the ministry said about 40 panchayat members have tendered their resignations fearing for their lives post the killing of a sarpanch in Baramulla district on Sunday.

Though the government in principle have given approval for holding elections at the district and block levels, it is yet to apprised the ministry of the details. The state election commission has to carry out the exercise.The MHA will provide more security, if required, for holding peaceful elections. The ruling National Conference is in catch-22 situation as they are not very confident of faring well in the electoral exercise.  Holding panchayat polls was easier as it was not fought on party tickets.The militant threat to panchayat members also found resonance in Congress Working  Committee meeting held in Delhi on Tuesday.

Rahul Gandhi took a serious view of the threat to their lives and non-delegation of powers to elected sarpanchs after the issue was raised by CWC member Gulchain Singh Charak.