Trump’s Visit Might Push Back J&K Panchayat Polls

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There might be a sudden postponement of the Panchayat body elections in Jammu and Kashmir due to the fear of violence during the visit of US President Donald Trump on February 24-25, said sources in the government.

The sudden deferment was announced late on Tuesday night through a notification issued by the chief electoral officer (CEO), Shailendra Kumar. The CEO said that credible inputs from the law enforcement agencies were cited as the reason for the postponement of the polls that had been announced on February 13.

It is after the CEO who issued notifications for the first two phases that the deferment has come. The first two phases of the election are scheduled to commence from March 5. The eight-phase election, the first since Jammu and Kashmir became a Union Territory on October 31 after the scrapping of Article 370, which gave the state its special status, was meant to elect local body representatives for the approximately 12,000 vacant seats.

According to an official, there was a fear that the targeted killing of a prospective candidate or the sheer lack of participation could be an embarrassing development at a time when Trump was on Indian soil.

Candidates were expected to file their nominations by February 22 for phase one as per notification, followed by scrutiny on February 24 and withdrawals by February 26. Trump will be in India on February 24 and 25.

The polls are being boycotted by all mainstream political parties other than the Bharatiya Janata Party. The National Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party, and the Congress have consistently maintained that they will not participate in the elections whilst their leaders were in jail.

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