Strengthening local self-governance


The Government has set the process into motion for conduct of Municipal elections first followed by Panchayatsand directed the concerned departments-Urban and Rural Development-to coordinate with the Election Department and complete the formalities, which were requisite for the elections. Governor NN Vohra, who had repeatedly asked the previous PDP-BJP State Government headed by Mehbooba Mufti to hold Panchayat elections followed by Urban Local Bodies polls, which were pending for quite a long time now, is understood to have asked the administration to explore possibilities for conduct of the elections with the State Election Department. The Government reportedly wants to conduct Municipal elections first after completion of Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrimage in August end as it feels that it would get assessment of situation for the polls as ULBs are confined to cities and towns only, where presence of security forces is already good, while Panchayats cover rural areas, where massive security arrangements were required to be made. The Urban Local Bodies fall in cities and towns only. So it will not only be easy to conduct elections there, it will also give mood of the public especially in the Kashmir valley, before the Government opts for holding the Panchayat polls and if the Municipal elections are conducted successfully, the Panchayat polls will follow.
The issue of Panchayat and Municipal elections was once again taken up by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at the high-level security review meeting in Srinagar, saying it was necessary to strengthen the local self-governance. During his visit to Jammu and Kashmir in September last year, Rajnath had taken up the issue with then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for holding elections to Panchayats and Municipalities in the State. The Rural Development and Urban Development Depart ments, which were responsible for holding Panchayat and Municipal elections respectively, were in touch with the State Election Department to ascertain the formalities required to be completed for conduct of elections to Panchayats and Municipalities. Elections to Urban Local Bodies were last held in January-February 2005 during the tenure of late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led PDP-Congress coalition Government. However, the elected Municipalities had completed their term in March 2010. Since then i.e. for more than eight years, the successive Governments didn't hold elections to Municipalities. Panchayat elections were held in 2011 by Omar Abdullah led National Conference-Congress coalition Government and the elected Panchayats had completed their term in July 2016. Elections to the Panchayats too haven't been held since then. Number of the Panchayats have gone up to 4490 as compared to 4130 in 2011. The Election Department had also finalized voter lists for the Panchayat elections. Number of the electorates for Panchayat elections had come out at around 57 lakh after extensive exercise undertaken by the Election Department for updating electoral rolls. However, the electoral rolls have to be updated once again when the Government initiates exercise for Municipal and Panchayat elections.

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