Omar cancels block polls
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Days after promising timely Block Development Council (BDC) polls and blaming the BJP for creating hurdles in establishing a strong Panchayati Raj, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has cancelled the polls. The elections were scheduled for November 7. The Opposition has slammed the government for cancelling the polls.
On his return from Delhi on Monday, Omar met his Cabinet and decided to bring an ordinance for cancelling elections to the posts of BDC chairpersons. The reason given was that certain changes were needed in the J&K Panchayati Raj Act to strengthen panchayats and grant reservation to SCs, STs and women.
Apparently, the Congress high command had asked Omar to make the amendments in the Act before the polls. State Congress leadership has expressed satisfaction over the decision. "It will give the government more time to incorporate laws that will empower panchayats,'' said state Congress chief Saifudin Soz. AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi has authorised Soz and Mohan Prakash to initiate time-bound dialogue with the state government for empowerment of panchayats, especially the incorporation of the 73rd amendment.
"First the government issued notification for the polls and then cancelled it. This shows serious differences between the coalition partners," said PDP's Nayeem Akthar. He said Omar had earlier said that incorporation of the 73rd amendment will violate Article 370. "Now the government has cancelled the polls to incorporate it," he said.
The BJP and Panthers Party had demanded reservation for the SCs, STs and women in the BDCs. "Once the notification has been issued, it can't be cancelled. The Congress and NC are not sincere about granting the reservations,'' said BJP state chief Shamsher Singh Manhas.
"The cancellation is a Congress conspiracy and the CM has succumbed to it. Congress leaders sought support from panchayat members to defer the BDC polls till 73rd amendment is incorporated. But instead of deferring the polls, the government has cancelled it," said convener of J&K Panchayat Conference Shafiq Mir.
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