Amendment to give ED time for holding BDC elections by Feb end1 December 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: The State Election Department has geared up for holding three elections in the next few months including constitution of Block Development Councils (BDCs), filling up of four seats to Legislative Council, who would be elected by the Panchayat members and Urban Local Bodies. As per the revised schedule, the election for the posts of chairpersons of 143 BDCs would be completed by February, official sources said. Elections for the chairpersons of 143 BDCs were to be conducted within one month of completion of the process of Panchayat elections. The Panchayat polls, held in the State after a gap of over three and a half decades, were completed in last week of September. However, since the elections couldn't be completed in time, the Government would have to go for an amendment to increase the time frame of one month for holding elections to chairpersons of BDCs. The amendment in the Panchayati Raj Act was expected to be issued in the form of ordinance and replaced by a legislation when the Legislature meets for budget session here early next year. The amendment being brought by the Government would give Election Department the time up to February end for holding election to 143 BDCs, sources said, adding the amendment was expected to be issued shortly so that the Election Department could set the process of holding polling for BDCs soon. This is for the first time that the election to the BDCs would be held in the State. Though the Panchayat elections were held in 1974, there was only single tier system in the State then, confined to Sarpanches and Panches. Election to few Panchayats were also held in 2001 but they were too dissolved before completion of their term. Election will be held for 77 BDCs in Kashmir division including Ladakh region and 66 BDCs in Jammu region, sources said, adding the electoral college comprised 4130 Sarpanches and 29,719 Panches. While there were 2164 Sarpanches and 15,959 Panches in Kashmir division including Ladakh region, Jammu region has 1966 Sarpanches and 13,760 Panches. Each block would have one BDC. The Sarpanches and Panches of a block would elect one chairperson through the voting to be held through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). The vice chairperson of the block will be elected through consensus among Sarpanches and Panches of the area like Naib Sarpanches. The Block Development Officer (BDO) will be Returning Officer for the BDC election. The BDC chairman will be a member of the District Development Board (DDB), sources said, adding that with the election of the BDC, two-tier process of Panchayats would be completed. Sources said there would be one election booth in one block making it a total of 143 election booths for an equal number of chairmen of the BDCs to be elected by the Sarpanches and Panches. As far as elections to four posts of MLCs from the Panchayat quota were concerned, the Election Department has already replied to some queries raised by the Election Commission of India on the pattern adopted for holding such elections in 1975. A schedule for the election to four seats of MLCs-two each from Jammu and Kashmir regions-would be submitted to the Election Commission shortly by the Election Department after which the elections would be announced. The Sarpanches and Panches formed electoral college for elections to four MLCs. Sources said only after the election of BDCs and four seats of MLCs are completed that the Election Department would start the exercise for holding elections to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). However, the process of delimitation for the ULBs was already on and was expected to be completed in one month time. The delimitation of Wards will be followed by revision of electoral rolls for holding elections to ULBs, sources said. .