Srinagar, Nov 04 : State Election Commissioner K K Sharma Wednesday announced the first ever District Development Council (DDC) elections in the J&K Union Territory stating that polls will be held in eight phases from November 28 and West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) too are entitled to cast votes.
Sharma also said that elections for the vacant seats of sarpanchs and panchs and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) will also be held simultaneously with the DDC Polls. This is for the first time in the history of J&K that DDC polls will be held. The DDC polls will completed three-tier panchayat raj system in the UT as Panchayat polls for sarpanchs, panchs and Block Development Councils (BDCs) have already been held.
Addressing a press conference in Jammu, State Election Commissioner Sharma said that first ever elections for the DDC’s will be held from November 28 in phases which will conclude on December 22.
“With the DDC polls, by elections for the vacant sarpanch and panchayat seats will also take place simultaneously,” Sharma told reporters here. He said that polling will take place through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) while as postal ballots will be available for Covid-19 patients in isolation, senior citizens and physically unwell patients.
He said that electoral rolls used in Sarpanch and Panch elections that have been updated on January 1, 2020, will be used for the DDC polls. “With the announcement of DDC polls, model code of conduct is in vogue from today onwards. The first formal notification for the first phase of elections will be issued tomorrow,” Sharma said. Pertinently, the State Election Commission was constituted recently. KK Sharma, who was advisor to LG Manoj Sinha, and was appointed as the first Election Commissioner of State EC.
Sharma said delimitation has been done for the constituencies and 280 DDCs have been identified across the J&K UT. “The term of the DDC will be for five years,” Sharma said as per KNO. He said that West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) will also be entitled to exercise their right to vote for the first time.
“Each DDC in J & K has 14 constituencies,” Sharma said. He said that while conducting the elections, Covid-19 protocol will be followed in spirit.
He said that polls will also be held subsequently for 228 vacant seats of ULBs. The State Election Commission said that after taking the feedback from various security agencies, a proper security mechanism will remain in place and “all concerns have been taken into consideration.” He said that expenditure limit for the DDC polls per candidate is Rs 5 lakh, one lakh for Sarpanch seat and Rs 50,000 for Panch seat.
Sharma said that the DDC elections shall be held using “Ballot Papers” and thus “Ballot Boxes”. “Sufficient numbers of ballot boxes for the smooth conduct of elections,” he said.
Observers: General Observers shall be deployed to ensure free, fair, transparent, ethical and Covid safe DDC and Panchayat by-elections. “The observers shall keep a close watch on every stage of the electoral process,” reads the official document.
Election Expenditure Monitoring: Comprehensive instructions for the purpose of effective monitoring of election expenditure of candidates have been issued. “For greater transparency and for ease of monitoring of election expenses, candidates would be required to open a separate bank account and incur their election expenses from that very account,” he said. “Expenditure Observers are being appointed to keep a close watch on election expenditure of the candidate. Control room and complaint monitoring center shall be operative during the entire election process.”
Polling Stations: Suitable numbers of polling stations have been notified for each DDC constituency and vacant Panch constituency of a panchayat halqa as determined by the district panchayat election officer (Deputy Commissioner) depending on the number of electors in the final electoral roll of the Panchayat Halqa and also other factors like ease of the voters in reaching polling stations.