DDC Polls: 321 candidates in fray for second phase
K K Sharma says, we are looking forward to good polling numbers, appeals voters to come to the booths wearing face masks
Srinagar: As many as 321 candidates are in the fray for the second phase of the District Development Council (DDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir for which the voting will take place on Tuesday at over 2,100 polling booths, State Election Commissioner (SEC) K K Sharma said here on Monday.
In the second phase of the polls also, 43 constituencies are going to polls in the union territory – 25 in Kashmir and 18 in Jammu, the SEC said.
Sharma said 321 candidates are in the fray for the 43 DDC seats. Out of those, 196 are in the Kashmir Valley and 125 in the Jammu region, he said.
The SEC said simultaneously with the DDC polls, the Sarpanch elections will be conducted in 83 constituencies and total 223 candidates are contesting in the phase two.
Similarly, he said, Panches bypolls going to be held in 331 constituencies and a total of 709 candidates are in the fray.
He also said 58 Sarpanchs (29 men and 29 women) and 804 Panchs (548 men and 256 women) have been elected unopposed.
There are about 7.90 lakh voters eligible for voting for the second phase at 2,142 polling booths – 1,305 in Kashmir and 837 in Jammu, the SEC said.
“Almost all booths in Kashmir are sensitive from the security point of view. Additional security has been provided in the polling stations in the valley,” he added.
He said all security arrangements have been put in place and the areas have been secured, while the polling parties and election material has already reached the polling booths.
“We are looking forward to good polling numbers,” he said, and appealed voters to come to the booths wearing face masks.
Asked about the complaints that candidates were not being provided security or confined to secure accommodations, Sharma said while personal life of candidates was important, for an election to be successful the candidates have to go out to the constituency and campaign.
“I reviewed this again today. Have we received any complaints? Not many. I have received one or two complaints and I have referred those to IGP Kashmir. However, the big leaders of political parties have not made any complaints about a specific candidate or a group of candidates that they have not been permitted to campaign,” he said.
However, he said, candidates are told to inform police before going somewhere so that the visit is secured.
“Otherwise, wherever law and order is not suitable, candidates could come under risk. But, human safety, personal life of candidates are important and at the same time, there is of custom in democracy where the candidate goes to the constituency, campaigns there, then only can the election be called successful. For that, the police is providing escort, but they have to stick to a time-table,” he said.
“If any candidate wants extension in the hours, let them come to us with it and we will enable the candidates,” he added.
On a question about those candidates who have won the polls unopposed being confined to cluster accommodations, Sharma said the goal of the government was not to keep anyone away from their homes.
“If there is a security problem in their areas for some days, it will be taken care of immediately and they will be able to go to their areas sooner,” he said.
When asked about the alleged detention of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Friday, the SEC said the visit was not campaign-related.
“When it was reported, I sought a report from IGP Kashmir. I discussed it and verified it. Mufti is an ex-chief minister of J&K. Whenever she moves out, she needs protection. For all the ex-chief ministers, there is SSG secures them and which has a standing protocol which they have to follow.
“As far as her Friday’s visit is concerned, it was not campaign-related. She wanted to go for a condolence visit which was 40 to 50 kms far away. She was told by those assessing the security of the visit, to not go there. Otherwise, she is also free as a leader of her party to do the campaigning,” she said.
The SEC said that special polling booths have also been created for Kashmiri migrants at Jammu and Udhampur so that they can also participate in the election process.
Pertinently, the DDC elections and Panchayat bypolls 2020 are being held in 8 phases from 28th November to 19th December. The counting of votes shall be conducted on 22nd of December.
Earlier, the SEC had a detailed review meeting with the Divisional Commissioner and IGP Kashmir in which he was briefed about the arrangements in place for the second phase of the DDC and Panchayat elections.
He was also briefed about the arrangements being put in place for maintaining the COVID 19 protocols and SOPs by the nodal officer of the Health department, an official press release informed.