Local Body Polls in J&K After Completion of Delimitation of Wards: LG Admin
Manoj Sinha. Image Courtesy: PTI
Srinagar: Lt Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha, on Tuesday said that the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls will be held after the completion of delimitation exercise of wards in the union territory and reservation of wards for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
Sinha informed about the ULB polls during a felicitation ceremony of councilors in Jammu as the five-year term of Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) came to an end. Earlier, the term of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) ended on November 5.
“Under the leadership of Hon'ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ULBs of J&K are provided with greater financial resources for strong and accountable self-government and to ensure holistic ecosystem for last-mile access to services,” Sinha was quoted as saying.
Outgoing JMC Mayor Rajinder Sharma, who is affiliated with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), expressed his satisfaction with the work of the municipality adding that there was an annual jump in the municipality budget for the 75 wards from Rs 25 crore in 2018 to Rs 168 crore in 2023.
Of the 76 ULBs in the region, the term of remaining few urban bodies will be completed by the end of this month and by the end of December. All ULBs across J&K will cease to exist, according to officials.
In the last seven decades, elections for Jammu Municipality have taken place five times only in year 1956, 1972, 1980, 2005 and the last elections for ULBs were conducted in the year 2018.
Fresh elections were expected to be held during October and November this year but were delayed after the government proposed to create reservation for OBCs and carry out delimitation of wards in the region.
With the expiry of terms of ULBs, the corporations will function without Mayors, Deputy Mayors, presidents and vice-presidents and the powers vested with them will shift to Commissioners (in case of JMC and SMC); similarly, these powers will transfer to Administrators or Executive Officers in case of Municipal Councils and Committees, the officials said.
The local leadership, including former chief ministers of J&K Omar Abdullah of the National Conference (NC) and Mehbooba Mufti of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have raised questions against the BJP for delay in the elections. They argued that the party has been avoiding the polls knowing that it will not win the next time.
Abdullah has accused the ruling BJP and the LG administration of subverting the electoral process by unnecessary delay in elections, including the ULB polls.
In the Kargil division of Ladakh UT, the BJP could win only two seats while as the NC-Congress alliance emerged victorious on 22 seats out of the total 26 seats in the key Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC)-Kargil elections. The polls were held earlier this year on October 4.
Mohiuddin Choudhary, councillor from Jammu’s Gujjar Nagar, told NewsClick that the delay in elections comes after the BJP witnessed severe defeat in the results of hill council polls in Kargil.
“They (BJP) have realised that their defeat is imminent as the people in Jammu are facing problems due to their anti-popular policies. They introduced smart meters for electricity and slapped huge power bills on the poor and the elderly persons are running from pillar to post for old-age pensions,” Choudhary said.
He added that in absence of representatives like him, the problems for the local population will only increase and that no “band-aid” solution will change the facts on the ground. “People are affected by issues and problems and they need elected representatives, so elections are necessary,” the councillor added.
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