Srinagar: The recent amendment to the Panchayati Raj Act to pave way for the direct elections to the district development councils has cleared two things on the ground. One is that Assembly elections would not be held in the near future and another is that the Central government is trying to replace PDP and NC with a new political force comprising youth and those politicians who want to stay away from the Gupkar Declaration. Most political analysts in Kashmir see the announcement of district development council elections as a move by the Centre to further marginalise mainstream political parties. These elections will provide for a three-tier system of local government. The halqa panchayat, representing a cluster of villages, is headed by a sarpanch. Its members are chosen through direct elections. A council of sarpanches finally elects members for the block development board. And the final tier to the system is the direct elections of district development councils, as each district will be having 14 such members, while the fresh government notification has said that additional deputy commissioner of every district of UT of Jammu and Kashmir would be the chairman of the council. With 13,000 Panchayat seats still vacant in Jammu and Kashmir due to the prevailing situation, the government has decided to go for the elections in these areas also, but will it serve the purpose for a push to a development agenda? —Noor-Ul-Qamrain