SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir cabinet would take a final call on holding of panchayat polls in the State after Sunday’s All Party Meeting (APM) on the issue to be chaired by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
Senior PDP leader and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdur Rehman Veeri informed Legislative Assembly in Jammu today that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti would chair an APM to decide the future course of panchayat polls.
He said a final call on holding of panchayat polls would be taken by the state cabinet later.
The APM would be held in Jammu tomorrow. It would be chaired by Mehbooba and attended by senior leaders of the opposition and ruling parties.
The panchayat polls were scheduled to be held in 2016 but were deferred due to unrest in the Valley that year following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
The panchayat polls were also not held last year due to tension in Valley over civilian killings and surge in encounters.
On December 25 last year, Mehbooba made a sudden announcement that Panchayat elections in the State would be held from February 15.
The last panchayat elections were held in March-April 2011 after a gap of nearly four decades and record 79 per cent of voters had exercised their franchise.
J&K has 4490 panchayats with 35096 panch constituencies.
The separatist leaders including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik have called for boycott of the panchayat polls.
The militant outfits have also called for boycott of the polls and Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo has warned of blinding the candidates by pouring acid in their eyes.
The BJP is in favour of holding the panchayat polls in the State.
However, BJP’s ally PDP is not in favour of holding the panchayat polls in view of prevailing tension in Valley following five civilian killings in south Kashmir’s Shopian district since January 24, sources.
The opposition parties including National Conference and Congress have questioned the government for making a sudden announcement of holding the panchayat polls.
They say when the bypolls for Anantnag parliamentary seat in south Kashmir was deferred last year due to security concerns, how has the situation become conducive now for holding the panchayat polls, which is an extensive exercise.
All J&K Panchayat Conference chairman Shafiq Mir today said Panchayat is not a political institutions and political parties should not play politics over panchayat polls.
“We have nothing to do with any kind of politics in the state and will contest the panchayat polls just to resolve our issues at local level,” he said.
Mir said no political party wants panchayats and other local bodies because such institutions curtail their role and interference.