Srinagar: Asserting that voting will be held between 0800 hrs to 1400 hrs during the nine-phased Panchayat polls following less number of electorates, J&K Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shaleen Kabra on Monday said that the results will be declared on the same day of polling.
Mr Kabra further said that security arrangements have been put in place to hold free and fair panchayat elections, for which ballot boxes have been procured from Punjab. The polling will be held on November 17, 20, 24, 27, 29, December 1, 4, 8 and 11.
“The hours of the polling will be from 0800 hrs to 1400 hrs. The reason is that the number of voters is smaller as compared to municipal elections. The government had taken a decision in and accordingly detailed exercise was done since 2016. The decision had taken a decision that any panchayat halka, where the population is more than 3000 in hilly areas and more than 4500 in plain areas, new panchayat halka’s will be created. For example if the population in a panchayat halka was 3100, it will split into two. That is the reasons that the number of panchayat halkas in a district has gone up,” Mr Kabra told reporters during a press conference.
He said elections are going to be for both panches and sarpanches. “Earlier the election of sarpanches was not direct. But government though an amendment has made election of sarpanches direct. “Therefore elections will be of panches and sarpanches. There will be different color of ballot papers for panches (White) and sarpanches (Pink),” he added.
Two main regional parties — National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), besides CPI(M) — have boycotted polls, alleging that the centre and state government have not cleared their stand on Article 35-A.
However, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is arriving here on a day-long visit to the state reportedly to persuade the two regional parties to end election boycott and participate in the polls.
Nearly 70 per cent of wards did not witness any polling during the ULB polls in the valley as there was either no candidate at all or there was only one contestant, following non participation of NC, PDP and boycott call given by separatists and militants.
He said the counting of votes will be held on the same day of voting at a pre-notified time and right there at the polling stations. However, if a Deputy Commissioner thinks that he has the logistic support and can provide facility to candidates, he can move counting to another place. “There is also flexibility that the counting could be done on the next day,” he added.
The J&K CEO said that the Model Code of Conduct which came into force with the announcement of the schedule for elections to ULB will continue till completion of the Panchayat elections.
He further said that all the facilities for the candidates to file their nomination and voter to vote have been put in place.
However, when asked why the polling percentage in recently concluded ULB elections was one of the low, the CEO said he was not the right person to answer that question.