Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday decided to postpone the forthcoming block development council (BDC) elections till the provisions of the 73rd  constitutional amendment are incorporated into the state's Panchayati Raj act.

The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting in Srinagar chaired by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who flew back from New Delhi on Monday evening. A notification had already been issued in Srinagar last month according to which the elections were to be held on November 7 this year.

The members for the various BDCs were to be elected through paper ballots by sarpanches and panches (village headmen and council members) in each block of the state. An official statement issued here after the meeting said: "The state cabinet which met in Srinagar on Monday under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah decided to bring an ordinance for cancellation of general elections of chairmen of block development councils."

"Over the last couple of months there has been a latent demand from various stake holders as well as the opinion leaders who have been associated with the governance of Panchayats in different parts of the country, for bringing in certain changes in the state's Panchayati Raj Act in a bid to further strengthen Panchayats and also make reservation for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and women."

The cabinet also approved incorporating the provisions of the 73rd Amendment of the Indian Constitution in the state's Panchayati Raj Act. The amendment provides for reservations for women, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the panchayats. It also seeks the constitution of a separate state election commission and finance commission to ensure fair polls and financial viability of the village elected bodies.

The state Congress had started a pro-active campaign for the incorporation of the 73rd constitutional amendment in the state's Panchayati Raj act. Jammu and Kashmir has a constitution of its own in addition to the Indian constitution and the  two are applicable concomitantly to the state.

Besides, Saifuddin Soz, the state president of the Congress party, union Health Minister and former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had been strongly advocating the extension of the 73rd amendment to the state for empowerment of elected sarpanches and panches. Azad had recently said holding the BDC elections without the incorporation of the provisions of the 73rd amendment would be unfortunate.


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