ED sets Municipal election process into motion

ED sets Municipal election process into motion

3 March 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Setting the process for Municipal elections into motion, the Election Department has directed all 22 Deputy Commissioners to prepare draft rolls for publication immediately before undertaking revision of electoral rolls, a mandatory requirement under the Act before holding elections to the Urban Local Bodies. Official sources told the Excelsior that Chief Electoral Officer, BR Sharma, the Home Secretary of the State, has written to all Deputy Commissioners of 22 districts to prepare draft rolls of Municipalities falling under their jurisdiction immediately and report back to the Election Department. The Deputy Commissioners have started preparation of draft rolls of the voters of Municipalities falling in their districts, they said, adding that the districts where there were less number of Urban Local Bodies have prepared the draft rolls and forwarded them to Election Department. However, the draft rolls from important districts like twin capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar, which have two Municipal Corporations, were yet to finalise the rolls. 'In next eight to 10 days, the draft rolls were expected to be prepared by the Deputy Commissioners of all 22 districts. As soon as the draft rolls were received, the Election Department would order revision of electoral rolls for all districts', sources said, adding the electoral revision in which claims and objections are inviting from the voters could take about a fortnight. The revision of voters could be completed between 15 to 20 days after which the final voter lists would be published, sources said. The publication of final voter lists after electoral revision would clear decks for holding elections to the Municipalities after a gap of about seven years. The election process could start by the middle or end of April if everything goes well, they said. According to sources, all other formalities for the elections like delimitation of Wards of all Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils and Municipal Committees have been completed in most of the cases. Sources were of the view that the Government directive to complete election process of Municipalities by the end of April might not be met with as the Election Department would be in a position to start electoral process by middle or end of April and complete it by May. The elections to Urban Local Bodies were hanging fire for past about two years now as all Municipal bodies had ceased to exist in March 2010. Elections to the Urban Local Bodies were held in January-February 2005 after a gap of about 26 years as they had last been held in 1979. The Municipalities were formed in first week of March in 2005 and they completed their five years term in March 2010. Since then, the elections hadn't been held to Municipal bodies. During last elections held to the Municipalities, there were 14.34 lakh voters. With elections now being held after more than seven years, the number of electorates was expected to go up significantly especially with the inclusion of 16 more Municipalities for holding elections. The Central funds worth several crores had been blocked due to delay in holding of elections to the ULBs, sources said, adding though the funds are non-lapsable, they would be granted by the Centre to the State only when elections were held to the Municipalities. It may be mentioned that the Centre has agreed to release ' 364 crore worth funds to the State, which had been blocked due to delay in holding of elections to the Panchayats. According to sources, the elections to Municipalities would be held on party basis contrary to the Panchayat elections, which were held on non-party basis last year. Sources said only after the completion of electoral process for Municipalities, the Government would hold first ever elections to Block Development Councils in the State, which would be second tier of Panchayats. Election for four seats of Legislative Council of Panchayats would also be held after the Municipal polls, sources said, adding that the Government could request the Election Commission through the State Election Department to hold election for four seats of MLCs from Panchayat quota (two each from Jammu and Kashmir divisions) simultaneously with two seats of MLCs to be elected by the Municipalities (one each from Jammu and Kashmir divisions) as the Urban Local Bodies would also be in place by May.