Panchayat members divided over participation

Will Boycott, Can’t Prove Salahuddin Correct: JKPC *To Contest Our Right: JKSPUF



Srinagar, Nov 11: With government gearing up for a big fight over elections for the four seats in the Legislative Council, the division among Sarpanchs and Panchs is all set to make the poll process murkier as one of the groups Sunday said it would boycott the polls as government can’t right away jump to the “fourth-tier” and make the Panchayat representatives an “easy prey” for militants. The other faction, however, claimed that they desperately need a representation in the Legislative Council and that they would field their candidates for all four seats following the quota belongs to Panchayat members.
 President Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (JKPC) Shafiq Mir said they have decided to boycott the elections. “We are 31 executive members in the JKPC including the members from Kashmir region. All of us will boycott the polls,” he said. “We have also directed the Sarpanchs and Panchs to seek reply from the politicians who would come to them to seek votes as to what happened to 73rd amendment and devolution of powers.”
 Mir said if they would vote for the selection of MLC for the four seats, the move would automatically make clear that Sarpanchs and Panchs were part of a bigger political system. “That way we would prove UJC chief Salahuddin right that Sarpanchs and Panchs are tools of political parties,” he said.
 Mir said holding elections for four LC seats at a time when first tier system is incomplete, second has been postponed and third is yet to take off indicates that the government wants to play politics with the sentiments of 33,000 Sarpanchs and Panchs.
 He said if Sarpanchs and Panchs would cast their votes for the selection of four MLCs, the step would prove that Panchayat representatives were part of a political setup as LC forms the crucial part of JK Constituent Assembly, the “highest and most sacred institution of the State.” “So would become an easy prey for the militants. And then, we will be having no word to defend ourselves before the UJC,” said Mir, who claims that JKPC represents majority of the Sarpanchs and Panchs in JK.
 On the other hand, Jammu and Kashmir Sarpanchs, Panchs United Forum (JKSPUF) claimed that they represent more than majority of Panchayat representatives given the fact that they were amalgam of Chenab valley Sarpanchs , Panchs, and 90 per cent representatives of Kashmir region. “It was after long discussion and debate that we have formed a united front,” said Chief Spokesman JKSPUF, Khurshid Malik.
 He said contesting and voting for the four LC seats doesn’t mean that Panchayat representatives were following the political ideology of a particular party. “But yes, we need to have somebody who would highlight our problems in the Upper House. So far, there is no representation in the Assembly. It would be after more than three decades that we will be having somebody to represent us,” Malik said. He said the four seats of LC don’t belong to a political party but to Panchayats. “It is a quota guaranteed by the constitution and the JK Panchayat Raj Act 1989,” he said. “We will contest on all four seats. We will announce candidates for all four seats shortly.”
 With boycott on one side and fielding of candidates on another, the government is set to face a serious challenge ahead of LC polls. According to Election Commission of India, the polls for the four LC seats would be held on December 3 and the results would be declared on December 8.

Lastupdate on : Sun, 11 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 11 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 12 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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