Panchayat by-polls: Hold elections on non-party basis or release detained leadership first: Pol parties to J&K CEO

Panchayat by-polls: Hold elections on non-party basis or release detained leadership first: Pol parties to J&K CEO

JK CEO chairs political parties meet, NC, Congress, PDP, NPP, BJP participate, demand authorities to lift all curbs in J&K to ensure free movement of candidates

Owais Gul

Srinagar, Feb 18 (KNO): In the crucial meeting chaired by the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shailendera Kumar on Tuesday, all the political parties minus Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) put two conditions—to hold panchayat by-elections on non-party or to release leadership that is under detention since August 5

According to wire service—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar chaired a meeting today with mainstream political parties including National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and National Panthers Party (NPP).

The leaders who attended the meeting include Ratan Lal Gupta from NC, Shailendra Choudhary from PDP, G N Monga from Congress, Harshdev Singh from NPP and others.

During a meeting, the leaders questioned the timeliness of the conduct of polls, saying that how can the parties participate in the polls when their leaders is under continuous detention and booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).

Monga told KNO that almost all the parties echoed similar views except BJP, saying that the polls should either be conducted on non-party basis or the leadership who is under detention should be released to ensure the participation of these political parties.

He added that it is not possible for any detained leader to give directions during his detention as the leaders needs to access the situation on ground following which he can take any decision.

Monga also said that leaders who met the CEO today also sought lifting of curbs in Jammu and Kashmir, adding that there should be free atmosphere for any leader to participate in the polls. “It is mandatory for any candidate to get peaceful and free atmosphere so that he can work fairly on ground,” he said.

As per KNO, NC leader Ratan Lal Gupta said they believe the situation is not conducive for holding elections. “The meeting should have been called much earlier to know the views of political parties,” Gupta said.

Other parties except BJP also echoed similar views during the meeting and said that these meetings being called at a time when the elections and notices have been made public, wouldn’t bear any fruit, but was mere an eye-wash.

The leaders also said that CEO after hearing the demands of political parties said that he will raise these issues with the higher ups to address them at earliest.

Pertinently, the meeting was called in Jammu and Kashmir after the mainstream political parties here raised query over the conduct of polls amid the continuous detention of leaders.

The CEO Jammu and Kashmir on Monday had told KNO that “Any issue they (political parties) want to bring into my notice, I will definitely address that.”

The Election Commission (EC) on last Thursday announced by-elections for over 12500 vacant Panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir, saying that eight-phased polls will be conducted from March 5 to March 20.

It said the polling will be held on March 5, March 7, March 9, March 12, March 14, March 16, March 18 and  20. Panchayat elections were last held in Jammu and Kashmir in 2018 that were boycotted by PDP and NC. (KNO)

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