Municipal elections unlikely in May
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Municipal elections unlikely in May

Uncertainty looms over the Urban Local Body (ULB) polls in Jammu and Kashmir, due since February 2010, as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government is indecisive over holding the polls as per schedule proposed by Governor N N Vohra during his short stint as state’s administrator.

Uncertainty looms over the Urban Local Body (ULB) polls in Jammu and Kashmir, due since February 2010, as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government is indecisive over holding the polls as per schedule proposed by Governor N N Vohra during his short stint as state's administrator.

As per sources, fearing lapse of huge central funds awarded by 14th Finance Commission for the decentralized democratic framework of panchayats and municipalities, the Governor in March 2016 asked the Chief Electoral Officer J&K to prepare for municipal polls during the first week of May.

The state has lost over Rs 169 crore for not conducting ULB polls.

Following Governor's directions, state election department finalized the electoral roll revision for said polls. "But so far the department has not received any communication in this regard from government," sources said.

They said that the State election department has already completed summary revision of electoral rolls for municipal corporations, councils and committees, issued final notification for reservation constituencies and invited tenders for required stationary items, which is a costly affair.

However BJP-PDP government has put Governor's initiative in cold storage and prioritized ensuing budget session over elections, which will begin from May 25 in Srinagar, they added. 

Official sources further informed that the election department has also halted ongoing summary revision for Panchayat polls on the directions of state government. However, they gave no clear reason for the postponement of the elections or deadline to conduct the process.

"There is bleak chance of immediate polls in the state, because ensuing budget session seems to be priority of the government, which would be followed by holy month of Ramadhan and tourist season cum Amarnath yatra, which exhausts government resources. So ULB polls are likely to be deferred till then," said Prof. M. Tajuddin, HoD Political Science, University of Jammu.

Prof Tajuddin added that political parties in Jammu and Kashmir do not follow constitution and always find excuses to derail the process of decentralization of power. 

Shantmanu, Chief Electoral Officer J&K, told Greater Kashmir that election department is fully prepared to hold ULB polls any time but there is no word from government till now.

"We have done our work, rolled out plan, opened new portal on official website and are now only waiting for government's nod," he said.

Explaining further the role of the department, he said, "We are only felicitating agency and it is up to the State Government to take a call on the timing of polls."

Pertinently, the elections to the ULBs were due in February 2010 after the previous elected bodies completed their terms. The last elections to the bodies were held in 2005 during PDP-Congress government after a gap of 26 years.

Till now, State Chief Electoral Office has thrice conducted the revision of electoral rolls for municipal polls, which cost J&K financially.

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