political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have welcomed the postponement of panchayat bye-elections in the Union Territory.(HTPhoto)
political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have welcomed the postponement of panchayat bye-elections in the Union Territory.(HTPhoto)

‘All is not well,’ says PDP after J-K panchayat bypolls are deferred

Jammu and Kashmir chief electoral officer, Shailendra Kumar issued a notification Tuesday night announcing deferment of the bypolls over security concerns.
By Mir Ehsan | Hindustan Times, Srinagar
UPDATED ON FEB 19, 2020 05:12 PM IST

Mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have termed the deferment of panchayat bye-elections a sensible decision especially when top leaders remain under detention but the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the postponement indicated that all was not well in the Union Territory.

On Tuesday night, J and K chief electoral officer, Shailendra Kumar had issued a notification announcing deferment of the bypolls over security concerns. Last week, the J&K government had issued the notification to fill the vacant 11,639 panchayats seats in the Union Territory. The bypolls would have been the first elections after the abrogation of Article 370 last August. The bypolls were to be held in eight phases from March 5.

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress President, Ghulam Ahmad Mir told HT that the party has been raising several issues about loopholes in the panchayat polls. “We had identified the loopholes in the process and they were conveyed to the Election Commission, but still polls were announced last week.”

“It is good the polls have been postponed. We contested elections last time and would have contested this time, but the government should give us level playing field.’’

Mir said that Congress leaders are still not being allowed to move freely and remain under house arrest, while a particular group of people are being facilitated for these polls. “We can’t understand that when general panchayat polls were held on non party basis why should these bypolls be held on the party basis.’’

National Conference spokesman, Imran Nabi Dar while welcoming the decision to postpone the bypolls, said that there was large scale uncertainty on ground. “It’s a sensible decision. There is no point in contesting elections when leaders are in jail and conducive atmosphere is missing.’’

The party’s top two leaders Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah continue to be under detention.

The PDP whose chief Mehbooba Mufti is now detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) said the decision to postpone the elections shows that all is not well in Kashmir.

PDP spokesman Tahir Sayeed, “After the abrogation of 370, all the BJP leaders were claiming that situation is normal in Kashmir, but by deferring the polls this is an indication that all is not well here.’’

Sayeed said the government has no roadmap or plan. “They even don’t know what to do now. First they announce the polls and now they have deferred themselves.’’

He said that last time the same government made tall claims about holding of panchayat polls in J&K but are now trying to hold polls for almost 12000 vacant seats. This proved that people had not participated in the panchayat polls in 2018.

Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, both former chief ministers were booked under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) on February 6, barely hours before their six-month-long “preventive detention” were to come to an end.

On Tuesday, the PDP walked out of an all-party meet was chaired by Jammu and Kashmir chief electoral officer of Shailendra Kumar in Jammu.

PDP general secretary and a close confidante of Mehbooba Mufti, Ved Mahajan had said, “We staged a walk out from meeting because our leadership remains detained. We are not allowed to meet her and on the top of it government announced elections on party basis”.

BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir spokesman, Altaf Thakur said the serious inputs about security is a reason for the deferring these polls. “We were ready for these polls and had shortlisted our candidates for the polls. And whenever the polls will be held our party will contest them.’’

(With inputs from Ravi Krishnan Khajuria in Jammu)

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