J&K lo­cal bod­ies polls from Oc­to­ber 8

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - News - HT Correspondent let­ter­schd@hin­dus­tan­times.com

De­spite boy­cott by two main­stream po­lit­i­cal par­ties —Na­tional Con­fer­ence (NC) and Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP) — lo­cal bod­ies polls in Jammu and Kash­mir will be held in four phases start­ing Oc­to­ber 8.

SRI­NA­GAR: De­spite the boy­cott of lo­cal bod­ies elec­tions from two main­stream po­lit­i­cal par­ties, the Na­tional Con­fer­ence and Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP), the state’s chief elec­toral of­fi­cer Shaleen Kabra an­nounced on Satur­day that mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions in Jammu and Kash­mir will be held over four phases start­ing from Oc­to­ber 8.

Kabra said that polls for mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions, mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils and com­mit­tees will be held on Oc­to­ber 8, 10, 13 and 18. The count­ing will be held on Oc­to­ber 20.

Kabra said the no­ti­fi­ca­tion for the first phase will be is­sued on Septem­ber 18 and for phases 2, 3 and 4 on Septem­ber 20, 22 and 24, re­spec­tively. He said that over 17 lakh vot­ers ex­er­cise their fran­chise in th­ese polls. The CEO said the polling will be held from 7am to 2pm.

The Na­tional Con­fer­ence and the Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP) had boy­cotted the mu­nic­i­pal and pan­chayat elec­tions by cit­ing an “at­mos­phere of fear” due to the “as­sault on the spe­cial con­sti­tu­tional po­si­tion” of Jammu and Kash­mir.

Lead­ers of both the par­ties had said that the link­ing of the lo­cal body elec­tions with the Ar­ti­cle 35A case in the Supreme Court “has cre­ated se­ri­ous ap­pre­hen­sions in the minds of the peo­ple who gen­uinely see it as as­sault on the spe­cial con­sti­tu­tional po­si­tion of the state”.

The Congress had also said that time is not con­ducive for th­ese polls, how­ever, Congress state pres­i­dent Ghu­lam Ah­mad Mir had said the party will take a de­ci­sion on par­tic­i­pa­tion in polls only af­ter the elec­tion no­ti­fi­ca­tion will be is­sued.

J&K, which is un­der the gover­nor’s rule, is tense over ap­pre­hen­sions that Ar­ti­cle 35A of the Con­sti­tu­tion might be scrapped.

The Supreme Court is hear­ing pe­ti­tions on Ar­ti­cle 35A, which em­pow­ers the J&K leg­is­la­ture to de­fine “per­ma­nent res­i­dents” of the state and pro­vide spe­cial rights and priv­i­leges to them.

The court has put off the hear­ings to Jan­uary af­ter the Cen­tre and the state gov­ern­ment ar­gued that it could lead to a law and or­der sit­u­a­tion ahead of the pan­chayat and lo­cal body elec­tions slated for Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber.

The no­ti­fi­ca­tion for the first phase will be is­sued on Septem­ber 18 and for phases 2, 3 and 4 on Septem­ber 20, 22 and 24, re­spec­tively. The polling will be held from 7am to 2pm.

SHALEEN KABRA, J&K chief elec­toral of­fi­cer

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