Panchayat Polls: Govt Launches Ad Campaign To Seek Greater Voter Turnout  

JAMMU/SRINAGAR — Ahead of upcoming panchayat polls after the conclusion of municipal elections amid huge disparity in voter turnouts between Jammu and Kashmir regions, the state government has launched an advertisement campaign to encourage greater participation of people in the democratic process.

The J&K Rural Development Department has been issuing full-page advertisements in local news papers for the last five days, highlighting the utility of democratic institutions in the development process.

The prominently-displayed advertisements have also been seeking to apprise people of the linkages between the existence of rural civic bodes and the release of funds under Panchayati Raj scheme for developmental process.

Covering one district a day, these advertisements have been informing people about the funds to be released under the Panchayati Raj scheme in the district for the financial year 2019-2020.

Issued under the headline Panchayat elections-2018 , the advertisements have also been providing information about the fund which has to be made available to each block in the district.

Carrying the message of development at your doorstep and power in every hand, progress in every village , the advertisements seek to encourage electorates for greater participation in the poll process, urging them to vote for the change you want .

The government has already issued advertisements covering five of the 10 districts of Jammu region including Sama, Reasi, Udhampur, Kishtwar and Ramban. 

A few days back, the government had also issued a similar advertisement in local newspapers of Srinagar region informing the voters of the scheduled panchayat elections.

The department is likely to come up with more advertisements covering the Kashmir valley districts on days closer to polling dates in the region, an official said.

The average voter turnout in the Kashmir Valley districts during the municipal elections had been a meagre 4.3 percent against an enthusiastic participation of voters in Jammu region, where the overall poll percentage had been around 68 percent.

The panchayat elections in the state are scheduled to take place in nine phases beginning November 17.

The last panchayat elections had been held in 2011 after a gap of 10 years through secret ballot. The panchayats elected in 2011 completed their tenures in July 2016.

BJP state vice-president Arun Kumar Gupta, meanwhile, appealed to the people to take the upcoming panchayat polls seriously as the exercise would ensure the progress and development at grass root level in the area.

There are many issues involving people at rural level. The blocks look into their demands through their elected representatives and the panchayat poll process empowers them to take decisions for their own development, he said. 

Gupta alleged that various governments in the past have deliberately avoided holding panchayat elections for many years, due to which huge funds from the Centre failed to percolate down to the grass root level.

Had there been timely panchayat elections, the funds could have served the purpose of empowering people at rural level, he said.

This wastage of resources, which could have helped people, has deliberately been kept away from the panchayat bodies by various governments of the National Conference, the Congress and the PDP. It deprived the rural areas of the due development at the doorsteps of rural people and was a great injustice to them, he said. 

The BJP leader urged the people to participate in panchayat elections whole-heartedly and elect their representatives so that the funds meant for their development are duly utilised.

Referring to the advertisement campaign, he said it displays the Centre’s resolve to release the committed funds for Panchayati Raj institutions in every district in 2019-20. 

These advertisements are testimonies of the Union government’s seriousness for empowering panchayats, he said.

BJP firmly believes that power has to be in every hand so that the progress is witnessed by every citizen of the area, he said.

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