No local body representatives in J&K from January 9; no Assembly since 2018

Syllabus: GS-II

Subject: Governance

Topic: Devolution of powers and finances up to local levels.

Issue: Local Body Elections.

Context:
As of January 9, 2024, Jammu and Kashmir will lack local body representatives, with the five-year term of nearly 30,000 panches and sarpanches coming to an end.

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Synopsis:

  • Almost 30,000 Panches and Sarpanches five-year terms expire on this date.
  • No Assembly representation in J&K since 2018. Panchayat elections were last held in late 2018.
  • Next local body elections were delayed due to a delimitation exercise. Which initiated on December 28, 2023.
  • Concerns were raised about the lack of grassroots representation.
  • J&K under Central rule since June 2018 after the BJP-PDP coalition collapse.
  • Union Home Minister indicates statehood restoration after Assembly elections.
  • Supreme Court directs J&K Assembly elections by September 30, 2024.
  • Delimitation commission highlights population-based funding concerns during the redrawing of boundaries.
  • The Union government transferred subjects to panchayats in 2018, affecting local governance.

Background

Local Body Election:

·        Local Body Elections (India) are elections conducted to elect local body representatives in India as per the provisions of                 73rd and 74th Amendments of the Constitution of India in states and union territories of the country.

·        These elections are conducted periodically by State Election Commissions as per the procedures laid down in State laws.

·        The objective of forming these local bodies is to decentralize the process of democracy and devolve power at local levels.

·        Local Body Elections are performed at different levels based on the local population, such as Municipal Corporations, Municipality                 Elections, Nagar Panchayat, Zila Parishad Elections, Village Panchayat Elections, and Panchayat Samiti Elections.

·        India has one of the largest democracies with 3.1 million elected representatives, out of which 1.3 million representatives are women in           2,50,000 government bodies.

·        However, these local governance systems face several challenges such as lack of support from the government, non-functional                           institutional organizations, and restricted efforts on education of elected representatives.

Conclusion: Jammu and Kashmir faces a governance void as local body terms end, with uncertainty over elections due to the ongoing delimitation, impacting grassroots representation and financial disbursements.

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