DDC Polls Phase-1; 7 lakh voters to decide fate of 296 candidates in J&K today

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Jammu, November 27: Nearly 7 lakh electorate will decide the fate of 296 candidates in 43 constituencies on Saturday, which are going to polls during the first ever election of District Development Councils across Jammu and Kashmir.

While 124 candidates including 30 females are in the fray in 18 constituencies in Jammu division, another 172 candidates including 59 females are contesting the DDC polls at 25 places in Kashmir Valley.

During the first even DDC elections being held in Jammu and Kashmir, all the 20 districts in the UT have been divided into 14 constituencies each. The elections to all of them are being held in eight phases through ballot paper beginning November 28.

Apart from DDC polls, by-elections for 1,088 sarpanch and an over 12,000 panch constituencies are also being held during these held phases. Of them, 43 Sarpanch and 368 panch constituencies are going to polls in the first phase on Saturday. While 279 candidates including 89 females are in the fray for 43 sarpanch constituencies, there are 852 candidates including 217 females contesting the election for panch in constituencies going to polls during the first phase.

Meanwhile, Sharma said that 36 Sarpanches and 768 panches stand elected unopposed much before the first phase of polling. Most of these candidates are in Kashmir Valley.

The first ever DDC election in the UT is being held on ballot paper, Election Commission said, adding that for it, they have brought ballot boxes from other states including Haryana and Chhattisgarh as well. When asked as to why these elections were not being held on EVMs, he said that this was not possible in view of non-availability of these machines in such a large number. Moreover,- all over the country, panchayat elections are held on ballot paper, he pointed out.

He denied the NC and PDP charge that they were not being allowed to campaign, saying that the contesting candidates and their leaders in Kashmir were being provided schedule for campaigning by the security agencies. This was applicable for everyone in view of the security situation there as “we want to ensure safety of the life of the candidate as also that he is able to campaign”, Sharma said.

Pointing out that all arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of first phase of DDC elections and panch and sarpanch by-election, he said the candidates can campaign anywhere in view of the arrival of 145 companies of CAPF who along with UP police have been deployed all over the UT.

About border areas which are witnessing mortar shelling and firing by Pakistani troops at regular intervals, he said alternate arrangements have been put in place for shifting the polling station and rather electorate in case of any eventuality.