September 2018 News

9-phase Panchayat Polls From Nov 17

16 September 2018
Rising Kashmir
Yawar Hussain

Srinagar: A day after announcing the schedule for municipal polls, the Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra Sunday announced nine-phase Panchayat election from November 17. 'The voting for the first phase of panchayat polls will be held on November 17,' Kabra said while addressing a press conference. He second polling for next eight phases would take place on November 20, 24, 27, 29, December 1, December 4, December 8 and December 11. According to CEO, security cannot be provided to each and every candidate contesting the polls. He, however, claimed that election would be held in an environment of security and peace. 'We have gone in details as far as election in south Kashmir is concerned. We are hopeful that people will participate and there would be peace,' Kabra said. He said in case no candidate comes up to contest, a re-election would be held. 'The Panchayat is an election to empower people at grassroots and provide them resources, which they utilize on their own as per their own needs. So we are hopeful people will participate in the polls,' he said. The CEO said notifications for each phase of the election would be issued on October 23, 26, 29 and November 1, 3, 6, 9, 12 and 14. 'The election will be held on non-party basis, thus candidates are free to choose symbols of their liking,' he said. He said the last date for filing nominations for 9-phase polls would 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, he said. The CEO said last dates of withdrawal of candidature would be November 2, 5, 8, 12, 14, 16, 19, 22 and 26. The counting of the votes, he said, would be held on the same day of polling and in some cases, if required, the counting would take place the next day. He said the expenditure limit for sarpanch has been revised from Rs 5000 in last election to Rs 20000 while for the Panch the expenditure limit has been increased from Rs 3000 to Rs 5000. Kabra said there would be three types of observers deployed for the elections. 'General Observer shall be deployed to ensure free and fair Panchayat elections. Then there will be micro observers to observe the poll proceeding in the polling stations on the poll day and Expenditure Observers will oversee the expenditure of the candidates,' he said. The CEO said separate postal ballots would be arranged to facilitate voting of Kashmiri migrant voters. 'A scheme to enable them to vote through Postal Ballot is being provided in the Panchayat elections,' he said. He said the Model Code of Conduct has come into effect and it would apply to all the Panchayat Halqas (rural areas) and candidates, political parties and the State-Central Government. 'The incumbent lawmakers cannot announce new works or projects or utilise the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). The ongoing projects can continue but no new sanctions can be made,' he said. The elections would be held in eight phases in Jammu region. The election would be held for 316 blocks, 4490 Panchayat Halqas and Panchayat constituencies with 5812429 electorate. 'Keeping in mind, the weather conditions and less number of eligible voters, the timing for voting would be from 8 am to 2 pm,' CEO said. He said notification for reservation of Sarpanch-Panch Constituencies for Schedule Caste, Schedule Tribes and Women has been issued by the respective Directors of Rural Development Department, J&K. According to Kabra, there would be a single polling booth for a Panch Constituency as there are not more than 600-700 voters per constituency in the State. He said the election would be held through ballot papers. 'In view of the recent amendments making direct elections to Sarpanch, the electors will cast their votes for the Panch as well as Sarpanch. For this purpose, two separate colours of ballot papers shall be used,' he said. He said the election dates have been formulated keeping in view the holidays and examinations while the dates for filing nomination have been devised keeping in view the nomadic-migratory populations travelling period. 'We want them (migratory populace)) to be able to participate as well,' he said.