Final Rolls For Panchayat Polls Published8 January 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: The Election Department today published final rolls for Panchayat elections which have been mired in controversy with a faction of Congress calling for holding the polls along with 73rd and 74th amendments. The Government has, however, left the decision on holding elections of the Panchayats to the Cabinet. After undertaking a major exercise for revision of electoral rolls of Panchayats across the State including Kashmir region despite disturbed conditions in the Valley earlier, the Election Department today published final rolls for the Panchayats. An approximate 47.4 lakh voters will be eligible to exercise their right to franchise in the Panchayat elections across the State, as per the final rolls published today by the Election Department after undertaking an extensive revision of voter lists. The exercise took about one and a half month. Jammu district has topped with highest number of votes (5,66,273) while Srinagar district has lowest number of 15061 votes in the State. Home Secretary and Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K, B R Sharma told the Excelsior that final rolls for the Panchayat elections were published today after the completion of revision of electoral rolls taken across all 22 districts of the State. 'The electoral rolls, complete in all respects, have been published today. The next step i.e. the hold of elections is to be decided by the Cabinet. They have to tell us on holding the elections and only then we will put next step into motion and take a decision on phases and duration of the polls’’, Mr Sharma said. He added that with the publication of final rolls today, the Election Department was now fully prepared to hold the elections any time within the mandatory gap of an announcement and polling dates. According to official sources, the Election Department has already overcome the problem of purchasing ballot boxes from Punjab. Since the Panchayat elections are held under the State Act, ballot boxes and not Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are used for them. During the revision of electoral rolls for Panchayats, 2,18,563 new voters were added. The figures might go up slightly by about 3,000 as the data after the revision of final electoral rolls from two districts of Bandipora in Kashmir and Leh in Ladakh was awaited. As many as 1,04,006 voters were deleted from the Panchayat rolls due to deaths or change of address while 29,298 voters applied for modifications in their names. With the publication of final electoral rolls, the number of voters for Panchayat elections across the State stood at 45.37 lakh (45,37,283) but the Election Department was expecting them to touch around 47.4 lakh after the inclusion of figures for the districts of Bandipora and Leh, which were awaited. Prior to revision, there were about 46 lakh voters for the Panchayats. In 2000 elections to Panchayats, there were 35.23 lakh votes. This way, there would be an increase of 12.2 lakh votes in the Panchayat polls now. After the summary revision, the highest number of voters was in Jammu district at 5,66,273 while the lowest were in Srinagar district with 15,061. Kathua district has 3,27,733 electorates while Samba district has 1,76,231 voters. Udhampur accounted for 2,79,075 votes while Reasi had 1,60,810 voters. Twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri would now have 2,47,119 and 3,16,527 electorates. Ramban has 1,48,690 voters, Kishtwar 1,23,346 and Doda 2,13,375. In Kashmir valley, Baramulla district has highest number of 4,37,431 electorates followed by 4,19,668 in Anantnag, 3,35,604 in Budgam and 3,30,905 in Kupwara. Ganderbal has 1.21 lakh voters, Pulwama 2,63,398, Kulgam 1,93,044 and Shopian 2,43,044. Bandipora’s figures were awaited. Kargil district in Ladakh region accounted for 71,765 electorates. The figure of Leh district was awaited. The process for summary revision of Panchayat elections in Leh was delayed as the administration was busy in flood relief work after devastating cloudbursts in August. Sources said the State Government has left the decision of taking a final call on the Panchayat elections to the Cabinet. The issue would be put up before the Cabinet, which has a number of Congress Ministers. 'If the Cabinet unanimously decided to go ahead with the elections, they will be held at the earliest’’, sources said. A faction of the Congress had been demanding incorporation of 73rd and 74th amendments in the Panchayat Act before holding the elections. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has already made it clear that the Co-ordination Committee of NC-Congress was only a recommendatory body while a final decision on holding the elections has to be taken by the Cabinet. The Election Department sources said since the security arrangements for Panchayat elections are to be made from existing strength of CRPF and police, the elections would required to be spread to 10 to 12 phases. More than two lakh employees would be required for the elections.