Panchayat polls dates announced, parties geared up
GUWAHATI: All contesting parties have begun preparations in full swing for the upcoming panchayat elections, the dates of which were announced recently.
The state election commission on Monday announced the dates for panchayat polls in the state which will begin on December 5. The elections will be conducted in two phases on December 5 and December 9 in a total of 26 districts, including 14 civil sub-divisions.
The poll notification was announced here by State Election Commissioner, HN Bora, bringing into force the model code of conduct with immediate effect.
Bora informed that strict security measures will be followed. “As far as the police are concerned, they have assured us that they will provide us with full security during the polls.”
He added that the state election commission had earlier planned to conduct the polls in three phases across the state but due to security reasons and police constraints, they had to restrict themselves to two phases.
It is to be mentioned that a total of 1.56 lakh civil officials will be required for the smooth conduct of the election process.
The Assam state election commission needs to complete the conduct of the ensuing panchayat elections latest by December 15, keeping in view the constitutional mandate and orders of the Gauhati High Court.
The state election commission had already requested the state education department to arrange the holding of examinations in the schools and colleges (to be held in the month of December 2018) after 15th December.
Officials informed that the notification for the second phase will be announced on November 9. Further, the polling will be conducted on ballot papers.
There are a total of 23,505 polling stations in the districts where the polls will be conducted. Out of these, the officials have identified 8,243 polling stations as sensitive while 3,665 have been identified as very sensitive.
Further, authorities have considered less than half of the polling stations or 11,597 stations as comparatively safe.
Bora informed that the nomination papers will be received on all working days including the second Saturday and excluding the public holidays declared under N.I. Act from 11 am to 3 pm.
Officials informed that a total of Rs 149.91 crores has been sanctioned for the conduct of polls in the state. Out of this, Rs 96.08 crores have been sanctioned for the deputy commissioners, Rs 42.58 crores for SPs while Rs 11.25 crores has been sanctioned for the state election commission.
The polling timing has been scheduled from 7 am to 3 pm on the day of the poll and re-poll (if any).
Further, Bora mentioned that the deputy commissioners of every district will set up “help desks” to assist the prospective candidates in filing nominations in the offices of the DCs, SDOs and BDOs where the nominations will be received.
‘Development’ a major agenda across parties
All the major parties including BJP, Congress, AGP and BPF have geared up for the panchayat polls and have already begun making their base in all constituencies.
“We are completely prepared for panchayat polls and have been working towards it for the past one year and we have already completed selection of booth presidents,” said Dilip Saikia, general secretary of state BJP unit.
He added that they have also formed 5,800 Shakti Kendras across the state by combining 4-5 booths.
BJP officials further informed that they had successfully formed booth committees a year ago.
“Since the past one year, we have been conducting regular monthly meetings in each of these booth committees. The party is committed towards the development of every individual especially of village dwellers and we hope that residents will support us,” said Saikia.
He added that they are confident this time and the people of Assam have benefitted from the numerous development schemes undertaken by the state and central government like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana and Atal Amrit Abhiyaan.
On the other hand, talking about their preparations for the panchayat elections, leader of the opposition, Debabrata Saikia told G Plus, “Currently the process of candidate selection is ongoing after which nominations will be filed. The people are fed up with the anti-Assam policies of the BJP. There has been hardly any development works undertaken by the administration which need to be streamlined.”
Analysts feel that the Congress party is in a triangular fight with the BJP and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).
Saikia added that they will make people aware about these issues and gain their trust to vote for the Congress.
The Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and AGP have decided to contest the polls alone in constituencies where they have strong support bases.
“Not only the forthcoming panchayat polls, we are also going to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the 2021 assembly polls alone,” said senior AGP leader and former health minister, Dr Kamala Kalita.