The BJP, which is sharing power with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, today claimed the upcoming panchayat and Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls were being held in the state due to the insistence of its leadership.”The polls are being held due to the insistence of BJP leadership which continued to raise the issue of early elections at different forums,” BJP state spokesperson Anil Gupta said in a statement here.He appealed to the people to ignore the boycott called given by separatists and said that total integration with the democratic institutions of India was in the best interest of all Kashmiris.The conduct of the elections will be a big challenge for the state election authorities and I have full confidence in them that they would surmount all challenges, he said.Welcoming the statement by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti that the panchayat polls from February 15 would be followed by ULB elections, Gupta said these elections would lead to real decentralisation of power.The BJP-PDP government is committed to the devolution of democratic powers and financial resources to the panchayats and ULBs for realising its promise of holistic development, he said.”The sincerity of the BJP-PDP alliance in financial empowerment of the panchayats can be gauged from the fact that separate budgetary allocation for them is being made by the finance minister, a clear and welcome departure from the past,” he said.As far as the ULB elections are concerned, he said these were long overdue.The elections have not been held since 2005 where in (former Chief Ministers) Ghulam Nabi Azad and Omar Abdullah led coalition governments did not dare to hold polls due to political considerations depriving the state huge amount of funds from the Centre, he said.
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