4- phase J& K local polls in Oct
Pooh- poohing the boycott decision of Jammu and Kashmir’s two major mainstream political parties — National Conference ( NC) and Peoples’ Democratic Party ( PDP) — and the reluctance of the Congress to participate in urban local bodies’ polls, the election authorities on Saturday announced dates for four- phased polling between October 8 and 16. The results will be declared on October 20.
Chief electoral officer ( CEO) Shaleen Kabra said that voting will be held on October 8, 10, 13 and 16.
The notification for the first phase will be issued on September 18 and that for phases 2, 3 and 4 on September 20, 22 and 24, respectively. As many as 17 lakh voters are registered for these polls, he said.
The last elections for local bodies, including two municipal corporations of the twin capitals Srinagar and Jammu, three municipal councils and 72 municipal committees, were held in 2005 and their five- year term expired in 2010. Mr Kabra said that with the
announcement of the poll schedule, the model code of conduct has come into force with immediate effect and the same shall apply in all municipal bodies going to polls, as also for the candidates, the political parties and the government. He added that polling will be held through EVMs and that suitable number of polling stations has been notified for each ward. The PDP has decided to boycott both urban and rural bodies’ election citing the situation on the ground created by what it alleged was the government’s linking these polls with Article 35A case pending before the Supreme Court ( SC) and apprehension among the people thereof.
The NC, on the other hand, announced to stay away from these elections unless and until the Centre clears its position vis- a- vis Article 35A of the Constitution. It also said that the situation is not conducive in the state for holding elections.
The Congress too has said that the situation on the ground is not conducive for holding these elections and sought certain assurances and clarifications from the government on issues including the safety of those who may join the fray. Article 35A guarantees special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, prohibiting non- permanent residents from permanent settlement and from acquiring immovable properties, government jobs and scholarships in the state. However, a petition seeking removal of Article 35A is currently pending before a threejudge bench of the Supreme Court.
NGO We the Citizens, believed to be an RSS think- tank, challenged Section 35A in the SC in 2014 on grounds that it was not added to the Constitution through amendment under Article 368 and that it was never presented before Parliament, and came into effect immediately.
SC had on August 31 deferred the hearing on petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A after its threemember bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was informed that in view of the impending eightphased local body elections and law and order situation in the state, the hearing be deferred.