New Delhi: Amid clamping of restrictions in the wake of abrogation of the Article 370 in August, Jammu and Kashmir will witness the first democratic exercise on October 24 when its Block Development Councils go to the polls even as most of its local political leaders remain under detention.
J&K State Election Commission announced elections to the BDC on Sunday.
Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar said the elections will be held from 9 am to 1 pm, and votes will be counted from 3 pm the same day. Elections will be held in 310 of 316 blocks in the state, a week before J&K, and Ladakh are notified as newly-formed Union Territories after annulment of special status of the state.
“Every District Development Board will have these elected BDC chairpersons as members, besides MLAs and MPs. At the district level, these Chairpersons have an important role in the development work of the district under the Panchayat Raj Act 1989 and rules of 1996,” said Kumar.
A total of 26,629 elected Panchs and Sarpanchs will elect 310 Block Development Chairpersons in the first phase. This will be followed by polls for 22 District Level Chairpersons for the District Development Boards. The results will be declared on the same day.
“Of 316 Block elections, two Blocks, Kulgam and Srinagar, have no elected panches or sarpanches. There are four blocks where no women panches and sarpanches are available for reserved seats. Thus, there shall be no elections there,” said Kumar. He also added that the entire election process shall be completed by November 5, 2019.
Earlier in the week, Home Minister Amit Shah had said the government is committed to making three-tier panchayat system fully functional in the region.
“We will ensure that Panchayat polls will happen in J&K after which 40,000 village heads will work for development. “
Shah said the central government will provide Rs 70,000 crore to panchayats for the development of the villages.
“The money will directly go to Sarpanches’ bank accounts. Earlier, it did not go below the secretariat level,” he had said.
The recent announcement is seen as a move to create a new set of grass-root level leaders since most of the local leaders, including former chief ministers, have been detained since August 4.