J&K: Parties cry foul over holding of BDC polls

State Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir. (DH Photo)

Major political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have been crying foul over the decision of governor administration to hold block development council (BDC) election in the state at a time when most of the leaders are under detention and the valley is reeling under uncertainty. 

These parties claimed that the decision to hold the polls was purely aimed to benefit Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). Even Jammu based political parties and different Panchayat bodies termed the holding of BDC polls, a week before the Jammu and Kashmir Re-organization Act comes into effect as “nothing but a farce and a mockery of democracy.”

State Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir said they decided to boycott these polls as most of the leaders and political workers are either under detention or kept under house arrest. “Holding of elections in a block, where there is only one panch or sarpanch is a mockery of the electoral process,” he said.
Mir said the Election Commission should have consulted political parties before announcing the poll date. “Government wanted only BJP to participate in the BDC elections without any opposition,” he claimed.

Regional National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have already announced that they will boycott the BDC elections. The NC made it clear that the party will not participate in any political activity unless its incarcerated leaders and workers are released.

All Jammu Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJPC) president Anil Sharma said the BDC elections should have been held after October 31 when over 100 central laws would be applicable to the newly created Union Territory of J&K. “Holding of elections after October 31 would have ensured maximum participation of people as per the 73rd Amendment of the Indian Constitution,” he said.

Another local organisation, Movement for Peace, Equality and Justice has accused the governor’s administration of conducting BDC elections in a “hush-hush manner.”

“Panchayati Raj institutions are not political identities but community institutions. These institutions must be kept away from politics,” it said in a statement.
The first-tier Panchayat elections were held on non-party basis last December 2018 after a gap of seven years. However, the EC announced to hold BDC election on October 24 along party lines for 310 blocks out of the total 316 blocks in 22 districts of J&K.

The decision is also being questioned as over 60% of the electorates- panchs and sarpanchs- are lying vacant in Kashmir Valley, as the NC and the PDP had boycotted the first tier of Panchayat polls last year.

Besides BJP, some independents are in the fray for the upcoming BDC polls, slated to be held on October 24. The polls shall be held in single-phase across the state.

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