Ladakh gears up for holding Municipal, Panchayat polls before onset of winter

Ladakh LG Brig (Retd) B D Mishra administering oath to Sudanshu Pandey as the SEC on Saturday.
Ladakh LG Brig (Retd) B D Mishra administering oath to Sudanshu Pandey as the SEC on Saturday.

New SEC in UT takes oath

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Sept 23: Following appointment of former senior IAS officer of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir cadre as State Election Commissioner (SEC), the Union Territory Administration of Ladakh has geared up for conduct of Municipal and Panchayat elections before the onset of winter when the twin bodies will complete their five-year term.
Sudanshu Pandey, the Common Election Commissioner of Union Territories was recently appointed as the State Election Commissioner (SEC) for the Union Territory of Ladakh for conducting Panchayat elections which are due in November this year.
He was administered the oath today by Ladakh LG Brig (Retd) B D Mishra.
Pandey, a top bureaucrat from erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir cadre, who was appointed the Common Election Commissioner after retirement, is presently in Ladakh for discussing preparations for the polls.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the Union Territory Administration in Ladakh has been gearing up for holding Municipal and Panchayat polls simultaneously before onset of winter in Ladakh.
In 2018 when Ladakh was part of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, the Municipal elections there were held in October while Panchayat polls were conducted in November.
Snowfall and harsh winter period lasting five months start in December in Ladakh when life almost comes to a standstill and it is impossible to conduct any kind of elections there.
The Rural Development Department (RDD) of Ladakh headed by Amit Sharma has also started completion of formalities for holding Panchayat elections in the Union Territory.
The formalities which have to be completed by the Rural Development Department include ordering revision of Panchayat electoral rolls, rotation of reserved Wards for Women etc and delimitation of Sarpanch and Panch segments, if required.
Ladakh has only two Municipalities-one each in Leh and Kargil towns and 193 Panchayats-98 in Kargil and 95 in Leh. The twin Municipalities have 13 Wards each.
Last elections to them were held in September-November 2018 when Ladakh was part of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir. However, it became a separate Union Territory on August 5, 2019 after bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019 when special status of J&K was abrogated by the Central Government.
As against three-tier system of Panchayati Raj in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh has only two-tier system including Panchayats and Block Development Councils (BDCs). It doesn’t have third tier i.e. the District Development Councils (DDCs) as Leh and Kargil already have Autonomous Hill Development Councils.
The UT Election Authority is presently engaged in holding elections to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil. Polling for 26-members LAHDC Kargil is scheduled to be held on October 4 and counting on October 8.
Elections to LAHDC Kargil were scheduled in September but the Supreme Court had cancelled the previous notification following denial of ‘Plough’ symbol to National Conference candidates by the Election Authority.
After the Apex Court verdict, the National Conference candidates have now got their symbol which is with them in Jammu and Kashmir also.