Govt Announces Polls For 12,500 Panchayat Seats

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A Panchayat Ghar In Rural Kashmir – File Pic

JAMMU – By-election to over 12,500 panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir would be held in eight phases from March 5, the Union Territory’s Chief Electoral Officer Shailender Kumar said on Thursday.

Polling would be held from March 5 to March 20 and ballots would be used for casting votes, he said.

The Model Code of Conduct has come into force with immediate effect will the announcement of the bypoll schedule.

After taking into consideration all relevant factors and inputs from various stakeholders, the Jammu and Kashmir election authority has prepared the schedule for the bypolls to panchayat halqas and panch wards. Issuance of the first notification would be on February 15, Kumar said.

The first phase of the bypolls will be held on March 5, followed by second on March 7, third on March 9, fourth on March 12, fifth on March 14, sixth on March 16, seventh on March 18 and last on March 20, he said.

The chief electoral officer said, “Ballot boxes would be used during these elections. Sufficient number of ballot boxes have been made available for the purpose.”

The process for filling 11,639 panch seats and 1,011 sarpanch seats will completed by March 26, he said.

The Panchayat election was held in November-December, 2018, and 22,214 panches and 3,459 sarpanches were elected in out of 33,592 panch and 4,290 sarpanch constituencies.

Further vacancies have accrued on various accounts such as deaths and resignations. Also as a result of polls to block development committee (BDCs) chairpersons in October, 2019, another 307 seats of panch and sarpanch fell vacant, Kumar said.

He said that the candidates elected during these by-elections shall hold office for the remainder of the period of five years commencing from the date of constitution of Halqa Panchayat.

The panchayat bypolls would be videographed and district panchayat election officers (deputy commissioners) will arrange sufficient numbers of video and digital cameras and teams for the purpose, the chief electoral officer said.

In order to enable Kashmiri Migrant voters to exercise their franchise through postal ballots, ”Migrant Postal Ballot” scheme was notified for the 2018 panchayat elections, he added.

Mockery Of Democracy: Yechury

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury took a dig at the Narendra Modi government on Thursday over the announcement of by-election to over 12,500 panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was a “mockery of democracy.”

The Union Territory’s Chief Electoral Officer Shailender Kumar said polling would be held from March 5 to March 20 and ballots would be used for casting votes.

“After arresting major political leaders & workers under draconian PSA on flimsy charges, now this mockery of democracy. Time has come for Modi government to declare J&K as a jail. Appoint a Jail warden not a Lt. Governor. The Modi govt will be held to account on this (sic),” CPI(M) general secretary Yechury tweeted.

He also slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his remarks at a summit on Wednesday that only 2,200 people in the country had declared earnings of Rs one crore per annum.

“Mr Modi’s complete disrespect for facts or data or the truth, shows up all the time. The only tricks they all have is spin and Goebbels-like propaganda,” Yechury said quoting reports that the data stated by Modi on taxpayers was wrong.

“As per Modi, every Indian is a thief while his party is the one that has usurped crores secretly through opaque electoral bonds. If no one pays tax, what has Modi done over past 6 years? Didn’t he unleash demonetisation claiming that it would end all black money & tax evasion? (sic),” the CPI(M) general secretary said.

In his speech at the Times Now Summit, Modi had said, “In the last five years, more than 1.5 crore cars have been sold in the country. Over three crore Indians went abroad for work or travel. But the situation is that only one-and-a-half crore people in our country of more than 130 crore pay income tax.”

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