JAMMU: Politics is in the air and politicians, especially among the ruling alliance, are desperately trying to run away from the scene of action.
Ever since talk of holding Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir is gaining momentum, the alliance partners BJP-PDP are trying their level best to stay away from the ongoing debate over dilution of 73rd Amendment of the Panchayati Raj Act.
More than the ruling alliance, it is the opposition that is keen on holding Panchayat polls by this year end.
Panchayat elections are due across 4500 Panchayats in the State. A total number of 57 lakh (approx) voters are eligible to vote.
Behind the closed doors, BJP too has started election management at the grass roots level by holding series of meetings of its office bearers, directing them to form small teams of workers to reach up to the last voter. In Kashmir Valley, both NC and PDP are running neck to neck when it comes to holding party workers meetings in rural pockets to activate cadre at the grass roots level.
Both NC and Congress are working as per their election strategy to corner the alliance partners and propping up disgruntled former Sarpanchs to rally against the ruling dispensation over the issue of non-implementation of 73rd amendment.
The opposition parties smell an opportunity to corner the alliance partners and encash simmering anger among the people at the grass roots level. If the alliance partners failed to put up a united fight in the polls, the opposition parties can easily rally against them during the Assembly polls scheduled in 2020.
The alliance government is already on the back foot, facing lot of criticism over its decision to hold elections for Panchs, who in turn would nominate Sarpanchs. This decision has not gone down well with all those who were elected as Sarpanchs in the previous polls.
Majority of former Sarpanchs are of the opinion that by adopting nominations and holding elections only for the post of Panchs, the State government is trying to hijack Panchayati Raj institutions.
Referring to the poll promises of BJP before the 2014 Assembly polls, several prominent leaders claimed the same BJP had campaigned against the Congress while promising to empower the grass roots democratic institutions by way of implementing the 73rd amendment in letter and spirit. And now when the time has come to go for the polls, the alliance partners have developed cold feet.
Former Sarpanchs have also started getting their act together. They are expected to launch a campaign against the alliance government to expose the real face of the parties in power.
Leaders of Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference are already in the forefront to fight against the whims and fancies of the ruling dispensation. Their leaders claimed if Panchayat polls are held by the end of this year or early next year, depending upon the prevailing security situation, they would fight by putting up their own candidates against the political parties. It may be mentioned the State government cannot afford to further delay the Panchayat elections as it is losing out on the developmental funds meant for schemes at the grass roots level.
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