MUNICIPAL POLLS AMID THREATS & CHALLENGES

The elections are set to be a direct contest between the BJP and Congress, with the National Conference and PDP having boycotted the polls over the question of Article 35A of the Constitution. The provision, which provides special rights to permanent residents of the state, is facing a challenge in the Supreme Court. Militants and separatists have asked people to boycott the elections. In an audio message, Hizb-ul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo has said that those who want to contest the panchayat elections should buy a shroud together with their nomination form. The fear of militants is keeping people away, especially in South Kashmir. In 2005, the municipal polls turnout was 48%. In the panchayat polls in 2011, 80% turned out.

In recent past we have seen police officials being wooed with perks and one of the parties, BJP, even went ahead by demanding disqualification of the parties, and it all apparently has made the situation more chaotic than before. Why are the elections being conducted when parties simply want some people to be announced winners? They can be handpicked and announced anytime without having to go through the tedious process. It is a very disturbing development in the state. New Delhi seems to ignore or at least downplay the precarious situation. It is working against the process for which it has worked hard to gain acceptance and credibility. Rest is understood.