Civic polls from Oct 8, to be held in 4 phases

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION - Mir Eh­san

SRI­NA­GAR: Lo­cal body polls in Jammu and Kash­mir will be held in four phases start­ing Oc­to­ber 8, the state chief elec­toral of­fi­cer (CEO) an­nounced on Satur­day.

Polling for mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils and com­mit­tees will be held on Oc­to­ber 8, 10, 13 and 18, CEO Shaleen Kabra said. Count­ing will be held on Oc­to­ber 20.

Kabra said the no­ti­fi­ca­tion for the first phase would be is­sued on Septem­ber 18, and that for phases 2, 3 and 4 on Septem­ber 20, 22 and 24. About 1.7 mil­lion vot­ers will have the right to cast their fran­chise in th­ese elec­tions, he said. Polling will be held from 7 am to 2 pm.

The two big main­stream par­ties, Na­tional Con­fer­ence (NC) and Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP), have de­cided to boy­cott the mu­nic­i­pal and pan­chayat elec­tions, cit­ing an “at­mos­phere of fear” due to the “as­sault on the spe­cial con­sti­tu­tional po­si­tion” of Jammu and Kash­mir.

Lead­ers of both par­ties have said that link­ing the lo­cal body elec­tions to an Ar­ti­cle 35A case in the Supreme Court “has cre­ated se­ri­ous ap­pre­hen­sions in the minds of peo­ple who gen­uinely see it as an as­sault on the spe­cial con­sti­tu­tional po­si­tion of the state”. The Congress has also said that the time is not con­ducive for th­ese elec­tions. How­ever, Congress state pres­i­dent Ghu­lam Ah­mad Mir said the party would take a de­ci­sion on par­tic­i­pat­ing in the polls only af­ter the elec­tion no­ti­fi­ca­tion is is­sued. There are ap­pre­hen­sions in Jammu & Kash­mir, which is un­der gover­nor’s rule, that Ar­ti­cle 35A 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. But the hear­ings have been put off to Jan­uary to pre-empt any break­down in law and or­der.

BJP gen­eral sec­re­tary Ram Madhav, who met J&K gover­nor Satya Pal Ma­lik re­cently, has asked the NC and the PDP to re­view their de­ci­sion against par­tic­i­pat­ing in the polls.

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