J-K gears up for first-ever DDC polls, preparations in full swing

New Delhi: As Jammu and Kashmir is gearing up for its first-ever elections to the District Development Councils (DDCs) scheduled to be held over eight phases beginning November 28, preparations are at full swing for the polls as candidates in large numbers are reaching the returning officer’s office to file nominations.

People in Rajouri district’s Block Kotranka (Budhal) are excited as this is the first of its kind polls which are being held in the newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. They expect more development in the remotest areas of the district which has been divided into four parts for the DDC polls.

Javed Choudhary, DDC Chairman, Block Kotranka who is also contesting the polls said that people are hoping for change and development in their area.

J-K gears up for first-ever DDC polls, preparations in full swing

“This election for us is like a festival of democracy. People are happy about it. It is a new system in which power is coming directly to people’s hands. Earlier there used to be a constituency with an MLA with 4-6 people with him, they used to take control of votes. Issues of only selected people used to be resolved,” Choudhary told ANI.

“Nobody used to go to the poor to ask about their problems. Plans will go to Block Development Council after going through Sarpanch, BDC chairman and new councillor who will be elected after polls,” he said.

On November 4, State Election Commissioner KK Sharma said that the first-ever elections for the DDCs will conclude on December 19 and the counting of votes be held on December 22.

He also informed that the results of Panchayat by-elections will be declared on the polling day. The polling hours will be from 7 am to 2 pm

An electoral staff marks ink to a voter after the casting of her vote

Fazal Chouhan, Sarpanch expressed hope that people’s problems will be resolved quickly as elected representations of DDC will have to look after only a small area.

“When DDC elections were first announced, people did not know what type of elections is this. I think when the area is small then people’s problems will be resolved quickly. I have seen people taking part in Assembly election or panchayat election like this. I hope that elections will be held peacefully,” he said.

The State Election Commissioner has also said that polling for DDC and Panchayat elections will be held through Ballot Boxes, while postal ballots will be available for Covid-19 patients in isolation, senior citizens, and physically unwell patients. Locals are enthusiastic about taking part in the polls and hoped that there will be 100 per cent polling.

“People are enthusiastic. People want to elect good representatives who would for the development of the area. Elections are now taking place at the local level. Earlier, many villages and areas used to left behind the development. But people are hoping that councillor will raise their issues,” Mohd Ayub, a local said.

J-K gears up for first-ever DDC polls, preparations in full swing

The expenditure limit for the DDC polls per candidate is Rs 5 lakh, one lakh for Sarpanch seat and Rs 30,000 for Panch seat.

Officials said that general observers will be deployed who will keep a close watch on every stage of the electoral process to ensure free, fair and transparent elections.

Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar has said that by-polls for 234 vacant seats of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) will also be held simultaneously. He said that election to ULBs will be held through EVM.

Parties including the National Conference, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Peoples Conference and CPI(M), formed the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration and are fighting the maiden DDC elections together. National parties BJP and Congress are also in the fray.

J-K gears up for first-ever DDC polls, preparations in full swing

On November 16, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s Advisor RR Bhatnagar and Union Territory’s Director General of Police Dilbag Singh reviewed the security plans and preparedness in Central Kashmir for upcoming DDC election and by-elections for Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies (ULB).

The DGP said that there is a need to be more vigilant and cautious in view of the possibility of terrorists attempting to disrupt the democratic process in Jammu and Kashmir and added that continuous attempts are being made by elements across the border to create trouble here.

He has directed the officers to devise the security plans and depute the security personnel as per the requirement, and also emphasised on the effective use of drones to monitor the situation in and around the polls stations,

DGP Singh has stressed efficient arrangements for the mobility and accommodation of forces deployed for elections and asked officers to keep a vigil on the ground situation to ensure that people would exercise their franchise freely.

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