A New Power Play In J&K
India Today|November 02, 2020
A New Power Play In J&K
District development councils
Moazum Mohammad

On October 17, the Union government amended the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Rules, 1996, paving the way for elected District Development Councils (DDCs), a new third tier in the panchayati raj set-up of the Union territory that came into being on August 5, 2019.

Members of these new district councils will be elected directly by voters of the Union territory. The move to create yet another layer of administration in the erstwhile state, in the absence of a legislature (the last state assembly was dissolved in November 2018), and even while a controversial delimitation exercise to redraw constituencies is on, has predictably raised the hackles of the former political establishment, which sees this as yet another move by the Centre to tighten its grip on the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir.

The 20 DDCs, each consisting of 14 ‘territorial constituencies’, will have a five-year term, with the chairperson elected from among elected members of the council. Legislators and chairpersons of block development councils (BDCs)—another non-intersecting tier of the panchayati raj set-up that came into being in late 2019—will also be members of the DDC. All DDC members, whether or not they were directly elected from the 14 constituencies, will have the right to vote in DDC meetings. However, only directly elected members can vote to elect or remove the DDC chairperson/ vice-chairperson. In effect, that would deny (future) MLAs and BDC chairpersons a say in the matter.

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November 02, 2020