Srinagar, Sep 16: The Jammu and Kashmir Election Commission Sunday announced poll schedule for Panchayat election, which will be held under nine phases, beginning from November 17.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Shaleen Kabra, during a press conference here, divulged that the entire process will last for 25 days, adding the notification for the same will be issued from October 23.
“Individual notifications for each phase of the elections will be issued on October 23, 26, 29 and November 1, 3, 6, 9, 12 and 14,” he said.
Kabra said the polling for these nine phases, which will be contested on non-party basis, will be held on November 17, 20, 24, 27, 29, December 1, 4, 8, and 11.
He said the last date for filing nominations for these nine phases will be October 30, November 2, 5, 8, 10, 13, 16, 19 and 22.
“The date of scrutiny of nominations will be October 31, November 3, 6, 9, 12, 14, 17, 20 and 24. The last dates of withdrawal of candidature will be November 2, 5, 8, 12, 14, 16, 19, 22 and 26,” Kabra said.
He said the last Panchayat elections in the State were held in 2011 after a gap of 10 years and the Panchayats completed their term in July 2016.
CEO said with Sunday’s announcement of the poll schedule, the Model Code of Conduct shall come into force with immediate effect and the same shall apply in all Panch constituencies going to polls as also for the candidates, the political parties and the Government.
“There shall be no announcement for development related works, or sanctions till the conduct of these elections,” he said.
Kabra said the elections will be held through ballot from 8 am to 2 pm. He said in view of the recent amendments making direct election to Sarpanch, the electors shall cast their votes for Panch as well as Sarpanch for which two separate colours of ballot papers will be used.
Saying the commission was revising the electoral rolls, the CEO said that the final list will be published by the end of this month.
“The draft electoral rolls have been already published on August 18. Currently we have initiated the process of revision of electoral rolls. This process also happened in January this year,” he said.
Kabra said that in majority of the places, the number of voters don’t exceed beyond 700.
“In the 4500 Panchayat halqas in the state, there are 316 blocks, 35000 Panch constituencies and number of elects as per the draft roll are 58 lakhs. Of course figures will go changes when electoral roll revision exercise is over,” he said.
The CEO said that the election exercise will be done through ballot paper in the state.
“Because of the amendment, two kind of ballot papers will be given to voters for electing Panch and Sarpanch. This time we might require additional ballot box, which will be provided by neighbouring states,” he said.
“We will issue voter slips in Urdu and English language, which will inform voters about place and polling station.”
Kabra said the commission will appoint Observers, Expenditure Observers and Micro Observers for smooth conduct of polling.
“The entire process will be video graphed. General Observers oversee entire process, Expenditure Observers will see day- to- day expenditure incurred by candidates. The limits for expenditure have been revised from Rs 5,000 to 20,000 for Sarpanch and 3,000 to 5,000 for Panch,” he said.
The CEO said that the Commission has included a special provision for Kashmiri migrants by way of posting ballot.
“The Relief Commissioner’s office would be directing officers in different places, in transit camps in Kashmir apart from Jammu camps,” he said.
“And the migrants would fill forms for the purpose of expressing their choice by posting ballot, which will be maintained by the Returning Officers.”
When asked about the security issue to the contesting Panchs and Sarpanchs, the CEO said that it was not possible to provide security to every member.
“A secure environment will be created to ensure free and fair elections. We expect good participation to ensure democracy at grass root level,” he said.
On holding of polls in volatile south Kashmir, Kabra said that they have carried an exercise to ensure participation by people.
“We have gone into the details on various aspects. We hope good participation as these elections are meant to address local issues by resources available,” he said.
Kabra also informed that in case of single or no contestant, the halqa will go uncontested.
LOK SABHA ELECTIONS: 13.6% turnout in Anantnag district
Segment-wise %age: Bijbehara 2.04, Anantnag 3.47, Dooru 17.28, Kokernag 19.50, Shangus 15.10, Pahalgam 20.37
Srinagar, Apr 23: The Anantnag district Tuesday witnessed a low voter turnout of 13.6 per cent in the third phase of the parliamentary elections.
Tuesday witnessed the first phase of the 3-phased polls for Anantnag Parliamentary seat, which also comprises of Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama districts.
Once considered PDP president Mehbooba Mufti’s bastion, the Bijbehara segment recorded the lowest poll percentage of 2.04%. Pahalgam recorded the highest turnout at 20.37%.
Addressing media persons, Chief Electoral Officer, J&K Shailendra Kumar said that polling took place “without any untoward incident”.
Divulging segment wise details of the district, the CEO informed that the percentage of the total votes polled in Anantnag segment was 3.47 per cent, Dooru 17.28, Kokernag 19.50, Shangus 15.10, Bijbehara 2.04 and Pahalgam 20.37 %.
Kumar said that out of 5.27 lakh voters (2.69 lakh males) and (2.57 females), 71777 voters cast their vote.
He said that 54,663 voters were to cast their vote for the first time, adding that 44,536 voters were in the age group of 18 -21 years.
In Kokernag as per Kumar, 18312 votes were polled with a polling percentage of 19.36% and in Shangus 13354 votes were polled with a poll percentage of 15.09%.
In Bijbehara, 1905 votes were polled with a polling percentage of 2.04% and in Pahalgam 17649 votes were polled with a polling percentage of 20.37%.
Kumar said that “total poll percentage of three phases held so far stands at 48.87%.”
He said that for the smooth polling, the ECI had setup 714 polling stations in the district. The ECI had also established 21 model polling stations, 12 all women model polling stations.
He complemented all those involved in the poll process including political parties and election staff.
The polling took place in 714 polling stations including 21 migrant polling stations and 71 model polling stations.
Bleak turnout may hit PDP
‘My father’s workers will ensure my victory’
Srinagar, Apr 23: With the overall voter turnout in the first of the three-phase polling in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency settling below 10 per cent till 1 p.m. on Tuesday, the fate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti hangs precariously in the balance in what was till recently her party’s bastion.
The bad news for Mufti is that voters in her ancestral town Bijbehara and the neighbouring Anantnag showed very little interest to come out and join the poll process.
Mufti won this Lok Sabha seat in 2014 and resigned in 2016 to become the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir following the death of her father, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.
She later won the 2016 bypoll for the Anantnag Assembly seat to get elected to the 87-member state legislative Assembly. Anantnag Assembly seat fell vacant due to Mufti Senior’s death in 2016.
In contrast to the less than 3 per cent voter turnout in Bijbehara and Anantnag segments that have traditionally been PDP strongholds, the turnout was better in Dooru, Kokernag and Shangus segments where her Congress rival, Ghulam Ahmad Mir has strong voter support.
The voter turnout has also been good in the Pahalgam segment, but it is believed that the PDP and the National Conference (NC) would cut almost equally here, again giving an edge to the Congress candidate.
Voting will be held in Kulgam district of the constituency on April 29 and in Shopian and Pulwama districts on May 6 and the voter turnout in these remaining districts may make or mar the electoral prospects of the PDP President.
Meanwhile, Mehbooba Mufti Tuesday said that the workers of her father Mufti Sayeed will ensure her victory in the Lok Sabha polls.
After casting her vote in Bijbehara area of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, Mehbooba said that “this time my father Late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed is not with me but his workers who have worked for him are still there.”
“I hope the workers of my father will ensure my victory in this election,” Mehbooba told reporters.
Asked about low voter turnout in her hometown Bijbehara, Mehbooba said, “I am hopeful of good results.”
Mehbooba is among the 18 candidates who are in fray for South Kashmir Lok Sabha constituency.
‘Mehbooba disowned her birth place; we just returned the favour today’
Bijbehara, Apr 23: Barely 100 meters away from the ancestral home of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) founder Late Mufti Sayeed, in Baba Mohalla Bijbehara, a group of seven elderly men were Tuesday drawing comparison between the ongoing and the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Sitting on a pavement close to late Mufti’s ancestral house, they lamented the party’s downfall in the town particularly after the death of the PDP founder, which was followed by her daughter Mehbooba Mufti taking over the party in 2015.
As their arguments grew louder, a number of youth, who were sitting near the shrine of Baba Naseem-ud-din Gazi (RA), too joined in. They all justified the town’s “total boycott” of the Lok Sabha elections this year.
By noon, only 78 votes had been polled in the town which has 6,756 electorates.
Only 27 votes were polled in three polling booths closest to Mehbooba’s ancestral home.
All these men and youth were seemingly unhappy with the PDP chief for “disowning” her home town soon after taking over as the Member of Parliament (MP) and later Chief Minister of the state.
A man in his 60s said that Mehbooba during her speech soon after being elected as MP in 2014 claimed that she belonged to the nearby Akhran village.
“Her father Mufti Sayeed sahab lived here and she too managed to garner people’s support from here in 2014. How could she later claim that she never belonged to the town? The same day we started losing our hopes in her,” he said.
Abdul Salam, another elderly person, said that Muftis “have now even changed their graveyard from Baba Mohalla to Dara Shikoh Park.”
“People are very angry with them. Mufti Sahab could have been buried in his ancestral graveyard, which the family didn’t prefer. In 2014, we saw a large number of voters coming out of their homes to support the party, which is not happening now,” he said.
Regretting the loss the area faced with the death of Mufti Sayeed, the locals claimed Mehbooba “ignored the people of her town. That was the reason why people were showing their backs to PDP”.
“Mufti Sahab would visit to the town every now and then. But we haven’t seen Mehbooba ji after she won her elections in 2014. So people this time preferred to boycott the election,” said a youth supported by others.
One of the locals questioned the PDP’s approach towards the town by pointing towards a street, which was littered with garbage.
“Do you expect streets in a chief minister’s town looking like this?” he questioned, while pointing towards the street.