MLC polls from Panchayat, ULB quota run into rough weather

CEO submits reply on EC’s rider

Municipalities meet condition, Panchayats not

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, July 29: Elections for six seats of the Legislative Council from the quota of Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies appeared to have run into rough weather in the absence of constitution of 75 percent Panchayats due to boycott of elections in some parts of the Kashmir valley and the Election Commission of India (ECI) will now shortly take a call on it.
The Election Commission had sought data from the office of the Chief Electoral Office (CEO), Jammu and Kashmir on constitution of Panchayats and Municipalities as it was mandatory that 75 percent local bodies should have been constituted before announcing holding of elections to the Legislative Council seats from their quota.
CEO J&K Shailendra Kumar told the Excelsior that the Election Commission had sought full details of both Urban and Rural Local Bodies constituted in Jammu and Kashmir after elections were held to Panchayats and Municipalities from October to December last year.
“We have finalized the details and submitted them to the Election Commission which will take call on conduct of elections to the Legislative Council vacancies from the quota of Urban and Rural Local Bodies,” Kumar said.
According to the procedure, at least 75 percent Local Bodies should have been constituted for holding elections to the MLC seats from their quota. While 75 percent Municipalities have been constituted in the State, total Panchayats constituted after the elections were below 75 percent.
“It now depends upon the Election Commission of India whether they treat the Urban and Rural Local Bodies separately or collectively. If they treat both the bodies as one, they don’t meet the criteria of electing the MLCs as less than 75 percent bodies have been constituted. In such a scenario, the election for all six seats of Legislative Council will have to be deferred till fresh elections are held for the vacancies. However, if the Election Commission treats Panchayats and Municipalities as separate Local Bodies, then elections will be held for two seats of Legislative Council from the quota of Urban Local Bodies and will be deferred for four seats of the Rural Local Bodies,” sources said.
They added that ball is now in the court of the Election Commission of India as such a situation might not have arisen in past. Generally, 100 percent Panchayats and Municipalities are constituted across the country in the elections. Even in Jammu and Kashmir when the elections were last held to the Panchayats in 2011 and Municipalities in 2005, almost 100 percent bodies were constituted and all six vacancies of MLCs from their quota were filled.
“It was in view of boycott or absence of candidates at some places, mostly in the Panchayat elections that some of the Rural Bodies couldn’t be constituted,” sources said, adding that since the Municipalities are elected either in cities or in towns, more than 75 percent bodies have been constituted making them eligible to elect their two MLCs provided the Election Commission counts Urban and Rural Local Bodies separately.
There are a total of six seats in the Legislative Council which are filled up from the quota of Panchayats (four) and Municipalities (two). Out of four Panchayat seats, two each are reserved for Jammu and Kashmir divisions. Similarly, one seat each is reserved for the two divisions from Municipalities. Ladakh region, which now has been granted divisional status, was earlier part of Kashmir division.
Vacancies from Panchayat quota in the Upper House had arisen only in the month of December 2018 as all four MLCs elected by the Panchayat members had completed their six years term. They were Dr Shehnaz Ganaie and Ali Mohammad Dar of National Conference and Sham Lal Bhagat and Ghulam Nabi Monga from Congress.
The ULB vacancies in the Upper House were filled up in November 2005 after elections were held to the Municipalities in January-February 2005 after a gap of 26 years. One of the members from the ULB quota, Nizam-ud-Din Bhat of PDP had given up his Legislative Council membership in 2008 after being elected to the Legislative Assembly while Congress MLC Arvinder Singh Micky had completed his six year term in November 2011.
Both seats from the ULB quota were lying vacant in the Legislative Council since then.