JAMMU: An organisation representing panches and sarpanches in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday opposed any move to prepone the panchayat elections and sought two-year extension for existing panchayats in the Union Territory.
The Jammu and Kashmir State Election Commission (SEC) had on Monday issued its schedule for revision of the panchayat electoral rolls in the UT.
All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) president Anil Sharma said the term of existing panchayats will be ending in November-December 2023 and there are rumors that the government may dissolve the existing panchayats and prepone the elections to the grassroots level bodies.
“This (preponing of panchayat elections) is not acceptable to us and we will oppose it,” Sharma told reporters here.
The SEC released the schedule for revision of panchayat electoral rolls on December 12, leading to speculations that the government is planning to prepone the panchayat elections. As per the schedule, January 1, 2023 has been fixed as qualifying date for the electoral rolls and the final panchayat electoral rolls will be published on February 10.
“Lt Governor Manoj Sinha and the Union government should extend the term of the existing Panchayats for at least two years and hold the elections in January 2026,” Sharma said.
Justifying the demand for the two-year extension in terms of panchayats, he said the Union Territory remained disturbed for a long period following August 2019 developments when the central abrogated Article 370 and later by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The panchayat members could not concentrate on development work due to the disturbance and it is justified that the term of existing panchayats be extended for at least two years,” he added.
The AJKPC leader said under the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution of India, all three tiers of the panchayats should have co-terminus and as the term of the district development councils shall end in 2025, therefore, there is no logic to end the term of the panchayats prior to that.
“The elections for all the three tiers of the panchayats should be conducted simultaneously and all the PRI members are unanimous in this regard,” Sharma said.