Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti citing “unfavourable security scenario” made a U-turn on her decision to hold panchayat elections in the state.
During her meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh on 26 October, Mehbooba had made a commitment that the grassroots democratic system would be restored in J-K and the election process was to be rolled out on 1 December.
However, it is learnt that Mehbooba has now told the Home Ministry that the panchayat elections cannot be held as the ground situation was not conducive for the polls.
The last panchayat elections in the state were held in April 2011 under the National Conference (NC) regime and are due since last year.
Deferring panchayat elections would not only hit the grassroots democracy but also cause enormous financial loss to the government as central grants have not been released as elected panchayats were not functional in J-K.
Path for expediting panchayat elections was cleared by the Governor NN Vohra by promulgating an ordinance on 4 November.
Resentment also prevails against the BJP in the Jammu region particularly for having miserably failed to take remedial steps to stop discrimination with the region by the state government.
The Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference rejected the Ordinance and accused the government of thrusting on people indirect election of panchayat heads. Anil Sharma, chairman of the Conference, accused the government of snatching the democratic rights of the people through the controversial Ordinance.
Farooq Abdullah on Monday met Governor Vohra and conveyed him that his party was ready for the panchayat elections and the Ordinance issued by him would deprive people of the right to elect the panchayat heads.
While addressing activists of the NC, Farooq said that the panchayat elections will give a new dimension to political discourse in the state with people signalling a change to undo the wrongs committed by the present coalition government.
He said the amendment in the Panchayati Raj Act 1989 mainly to have indirect election of Sarpanchs will weaken the system and give rise to manipulations.