LC Polls: Stage set for Dec 3 showdown

Punctuated By Bitter War Of Words Campaigning Ends

ARVIND SHARMA

Jammu, Dec 1: Hectic campaigning for Legislative Council (LC) polls which witnessed a bitter war of words between the contesting parties, came to an end today. The elections are scheduled for December 3 and counting of votes would be held on December 8.
A total of 37 candidates are left in the fray for the four seats of the upper house reserved for the Panchayat representatives. Nominations were filed by 44 candidates. Three nominations were cancelled while at least four candidates withdrew their names.
Observers believe that NC-Congress coalition candidates will be face-to-face in the December 3 contest with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates on two seats of Kashmir region, while in Jammu the contest is likely to be three-corner between coalition, PDP and BJP.
Last fortnight witnessed a series of events unfolding with each passing day, where some leaders were expelled for anti-party activities, followed by the wavering stance of some of the associations representing Sarpanchs and Panchs regarding their support and participation in the elections.
The campaigning also witnessed allegations of violation of Model Code of Conduct by the coalition government. The allegations were leveled by all the parties including PDP, BJP and the Panthers.
Allegations of money being used by the government to influence the electorate also came to the fore. Stung by the allegations, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah went on to say that he will step down if allegations were proved. He even retorted back by saying that the PDP was distributing make up kits among the women Panchs.
Although, the picture is still hazy about which way the 33000 Panchs and Sarpanchs will vote but during the build-up to the elections, the Sarpanchs and Panchs also kept on changing their stance. Some announced their support to a certain party while some preferred to boycott the elections maintaining that the political parties have hijacked the elections.
The verbal attacks especially between ruling coalition partners, Congress and the National Conference and the principal opposition party PDP also intensified as the days progressed.
Former Chief Minister and PDP patron, Mufti Muhammed Sayeed, asked the Panchayat representatives to defeat the ruling coalition “for avenging humiliating Panchayat representatives and not giving them the powers”.
On the other hand, the ruling coalition partners which were once poles apart over the implementation of 73rd Amendment of the Indian Constitution in the state’s Panchayati Raj Act, while trying to put up a united face during the campaigning kept on assuring the Panchayat members “coalition government is committed to empower Panchayats by incorporating certain good provisions of the central act”. Honorarium to Sarpanchs and Panchs was also promised in almost each and every meeting during the course of campaigning by the coalition partners.
In a major turn of events at the fag end of the campaigning, the ousted 7 BJP MLAs met Chief Minister and extended their support the NC, the policies and programmes of whom they had been opposing all along their political careers.
The main stance of these MLAs whether in BJP or not, had been that NC is responsible for discrimination with Jammu region. They had been raising this issue both in and outside the house all these years. But what prompted them to support NC still remains to be seen.
The result of the elections will set the tone and the stage for the next Assembly and the Parliamentary elections in the state. These elections are also looked upon as reflection of the public mood in the state.
If victorious, the coalition government will project the results as referendum on its achievements. On the contrary, if coalition loses, the opposition will leave no chance in terming the results as a rejection of the government by the people.

Lastupdate on : Sat, 1 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 1 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 2 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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