On Saturday, JK government has called for the All Party Meet that will be held at the winter capital Jammu at Panchayat Bhawan. This meeting will be chaired by the JK’s Rural Development minister, Abdul Haq Khan. The agenda of this important meeting is to seek consensus from all the political parties for deferring the Panchayat elections.
Last month JK chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti after Governor N N Vohra had announced that Panchayat elections in the state will be held in February 15 and she also said that after the successful conduct of these elections, the government will also conduct Municipal elections.
Soon after the announcement of Chief Minister the mainstream political parties had welcomed the decision even conveyed their workers to prepare for these elections. Last time Panchayat polls were held in the state in 2011 and large number of people participated in those elections with a hope that their day to day problems will get redressed. However due to the fragile situation the polls couldn’t be held in 2016 after the killing of Hizbul Mujahedeen commander, Burhan Wani that sparked violence in Kashmir. Last year also the elections couldn’t be held due to fragile situation and now government was planning to end this process before the arrival of spring in the Valley.
However it seems that state government in consultation with the centre is again planning to defer these polls. There are many factors why government is not in a position to hold these polls now; especially the police has conveyed to the government that situation could again turn volatile in case elections will be held this time.
And militants could up the ante to derail the process. Already Hizbul Mujahedeen has warned the people and political workers to stay away from these polls. The grassroots and senior workers have already asked the government not to conduct elections as situation is still fragile and a small incident could trigger violence that could become worrying factor for the coalition government.
Currently the political dispensation in J-K wants peaceful upcoming summer and reports from the ground has again indicated that situation could take turn that could ruin the summer. The tour operators have already asked government to defer polls for the sake of tourism season. Last year also Tourism failed to pickup after violent incidents during by elections of Srinagar Parliament constituency.
The government doesn’t want to repeat same mistake. At that time also some agencies had warned government not to go for polls. Also it seems the state government has taken centre on board and after the meeting of all mainstream parties where consensus would be build on postponing of these elections, the centre and state government could defer these elections up to next winter.
Though Panchayat elections are being held to take governance to the ground level, however it has been seen that during five years of its tenure, the government had failed to empower these Panchayat and the panches and sarpanches couldn’t do much towards the development of their areas.
That’s also a reason why political workers are not much excited about these polls and with presence of militants threat nobody wants to become a sitting duck as during last four five years many Panchayat members were att€acked and government did nothing to safeguard them. So in the interest of people and political workers and peaceful summer it would be a saner idea to postpone the elections and wait for the right time to hold them.