A day after Governor Satya Pal Malik announced dates for municipal and panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, a senior BJP leader Saturday said the situation was not congenial for it.
“The BJP wants elections to be held, but first the safety of candidates and local people will have to be ensured,” former deputy chief minister Kavinder Gupta, who was part of the party delegation that met Malik Friday, said.
Referring to the abduction of family members of policemen by militants in the Valley, he said the situation was alarming and time ahead appeared to be challenging. “Us ko dekhtey huey ranneeti ko change karna hoga. Usmein election ko karvana, mujhey lagta hai ki pehley haalat saajgar hone do tabhi is tarah ka decision lena chahiye (Keeping in view the situation, the government will have to change its politics. At this time to hold elections, I think the situation should improve before such a decision is taken).”
Gupta added, “I do not think elections are possible in many areas in the Valley. I don’t know what strategy the administration has made for those places. Militant killings are the biggest challenge, and if the electoral process is set in motion and then deferred, then it will be more difficult to prepare for elections again.
At a meeting chaired by the Governor on Friday, the State Administrative Council decided to hold municipal elections in four phases over October 1-5 and panchayat elections in eight phases from November 8 to December 4. Municipal elections in the state are due since 2010 and panchayat elections since 2016.
About the abduction of family members of at least 10 policemen by militants, Gupta said, “They have come back and I cannot say how and under what circumstances. It shows the situation is alarming. Keeping in view all this, there is a need to change the strategy.”