Doubtful about conduct of Panchayat polls in Mar: Bhalla

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Feb 10: Former minister and senior Congress leader, Raman Bhalla has said that he was doubtful about the conduct of  Panchayat elections in the State in March as declared by the Coalition  Government.
Addressing a deputation of Sarpanchs and Panchs from Bhour Camp area of Gandhi Nagar constituency here today, Bhalla said that elections have been declared by the Government in the month of March but the preparations were not visible.  The method  being adopted by the Govt for the creation of new wards and Panchayats has created lot of resentment among the people and at many places clashes have been taken place between the political activists of various parties. The incidents of protests have increased. The ruling partiers in connivance with the BDOs are segregating mohallas and wards as per their suitability.
Bhalla asked his party workers to get ready for Panchayat elections though he was doubtful about the conduct of these polls.  He claimed that this Govt  has a track record of zero delivery in the past two years. He further said that Cong held Panchayat polls in 2011 and created a history as more than 80 per cent  rural folk had voted in the elections. He said that elections have already been delayed and a threat looms large over hefty grants that the Central Government gives for spending by the elected Panchayats.
PCC leader  opposed amendment in Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, saying it is a ‘retrograde decision’ by the Government to negate the very basic concept of 73rd amendment of the Constitution introduced in the Act.
“The Government has not appointed an independent Election Commission and Finance Commission as per the existing law. Rather,  it has empowered the Chief Electoral Officer to go ahead with these elections, which is contrary to the 73rd amendment as incorporated in the state law,” the Congress leader said.
He pointed out that  Rs 3096 crores worth grants under the14th Finance Commission Award were proposed to be spent through the elected Panchayats, which had ceased to exist in Jammu and Kashmir last year in the event of delay in holding timely elections to them. There is growing resentment among people over it.