Panchayat Polls I: Fate of 6,378 candidates to be decided today
Srinagar, Nov 16: The first of the nine-phase panchayat polls would begin from Saturday to decide the fate of 6,378 candidates. The nine-phase panchayat polls will be held in the state to 316 blocks in 4,483 Panchayat Halqas comprising 35,029 Panch. For the first phase being held on Saturday, a total of 1,886 nominations — 713 in Kashmir and 1,173 in the Jammu division — were received for sarpanch halqas. The polls will be held in 47 blocks, 26 in Kashmir and 21 in Jammu region. The electorate will decide the fate of 6,378 candidates, comprising 427 for the sarpanch and 5,951 for panch. In the Ladakh region, at least 10 blocks, including six in Leh and four in Kargil, will go to the polls. In these blocks, there are around 33 panchayats having at least 110 polling stations. For seven panchayats, the administration will have to requisition helicopters to ferry the polling staff to their respective polling stations. As per the schedule of the polls, the snow-bound and far flung areas are going for polls in the first phase. In the first phase, the elections will be held in the snowbound areas including Keran, Ramhal, Teetwal, Tangdar, Gurez, Baktoor, Tulail, Kunzer, Uri, Perenpillan, Noorkhan, Kandi Belt Rafiabad, and Gund. Out of four panchayat constituencies of Srinagar, polls will be held at Khanmoh. In district Budgam, polls will be held at Khansahib. At the same time, most of the areas where there is a larger presence of militancy will face elections in the last phases. The elections will not be held in four districts of south Kashmir on Saturday. The polling for next eight phases will be held on November 20, 24, 27, 29, December 1, December 4, December 8, and December 11. The number of electorate in panchayat polls would be 5854208 and poll timing would be from 8 am to 2 pm. Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra has said that counting of votes would be done on the day of polling and in some cases, if required, the counting would take place the next day. “The voting would be done with ballot papers. In view of recent amendments making direct election to sarpanch, the electors shall cast their votes for panch as well as sarpanch, for which two separate coloured ballot papers will be used,” he has said. The entire polls process would be completed by December 17. The nine-phase panchayat polls in the state to 316 blocks in 4,483 Panchayat Halqas comprising 35,029 Panch constituencies. An official at Chief Electoral Office said that authorities want to complete the elections to consider the difficulties faced by people living in snow-bound areas and to ensure maximum participation. “We have taken into consideration about the possibility of weather condition,” the official added. “There are many areas which remain cut off during winters. We have taken all ground realities into consideration,” the official said. The panchayat elections are being held in J&K after a gap of seven years. The last elections were conducted in 2011 and the panchayats had completed their five-year term in 2016.