Srinagar, Sep 29: Stage is all set for the first ever Block Development Council (BDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.
Elections will be held in 310 out of 316 blocks in the state. Two blocks are lying vacant in Srinagar and Kulgam, while four blocks reserved for women too have no candidates. Out of 316 BDCs, 148 are in Jammu, 137 in Kashmir and 31 in Ladakh.
Every block would be taken as one constituency and all elected Panches and Sarpanches of Halqa Panchayats falling within the block constitutes its Electoral College.
As many as 26629 electorates — 18316 male and 8313 women Panchayat members– will elect the chairpersons of 301 blocks. Around 1065 candidates are in the fray.
The elections are being held at a time when 61 per cent of Panch and Sarpanch seats (12054 seats) are lying vacant in the valley.
Polling hours shall be from 9 am to 1 pm while the counting of votes shall be taken up on the same day from 3 pm onwards unless notified otherwise, followed by announcements of results the same day
The authorities have set up 310 polling stations, which will be monitored by General Observers. The polls will be held through secret ballot.
The BDC elections are being held on party lines. The multi-phase Panchayat elections were held on non-party basis in November-December last year.
National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party had boycotted the Panchayat polls in protest against Centre’s move to abrogate article 35 A. Both the parties have decided to boycott BDC polls too. Though Congress had participated in Panchayat polls, it has decided to boycott BDC elections citing clampdown.
BJP has fielded candidates in 70 BDCs in the state. It has also decided to support 60 independents in the BDC polls. BJP is the only party which has been carrying election related activities both in Kashmir and Jammu.
Meanwhile elaborate security arrangements have been put in place to ensure “violence free” polls.
State Election Office has already approached the Department of Home for making adequate security arrangements.
Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh said all SPs have been directed to make foolproof security arrangements for the polls. “Every arrangement has been done to ensure a very peaceful BDC polls,” he said.