Govt mulling fresh elections for 50% panchayats in Kashmir for lack of quorum

Srinagar: Government is thinking of holding fresh elections for around 50 percent of the total panchayats in Kashmir as these Panchayats have not been constituted due to a lack of quorum.

Reports said that as people largely stayed away from polls and sufficient candidates were not available to contest the polls in the Valley the quorum could not be constituted.

The panchayat polls were held last year in nine phases between November 17 and December 11.

News 18 reported that of the 4,483 panchayat halqas in the state, 2,135 panchayats are in the Kashmir valley. A total of 1,057 panchayats have not been constituted yet and all of them are in Kashmir.

The two main political parties of the state—National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)—had boycotted the local bodies elections that were held before the panchayat polls, over the issue of Article 35A of the constitution.

Out of the 2,135 Panchayats, no candidate stood in 708 panchayats, thus remaining vacant. In another 699 panchayats, only a single candidate fought the polls, each won unopposed, the report said. In Kashmir, over 60 percent of the wards had no candidate.

Quoting Mohammad Nazir Sheikh, director, Panchayati Raj, the report said as per the constitution, a panchayat can only be constituted after it has at least a sarpanch or a panch. “These panchayats either have “only panch or sarpanch or the entire panchayat is completely vacant.”

The panchayats where there is a lack of quorum, the elected sarpanchs cannot take the oath. There are dozens of panchayat members in the Valley who were elected but were not administered to take oath due to the lack of quorum and the panchayat could not be constituted. Officials say that technically they cease to be panchayat members.

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