Panchayat by-polls: Over 30% among those elected unopposed are women

Nearly 50% Panch seats filled without any contest

Competition on majority of Sarpanch constituencies

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Nov 30: Over 30% among those who have been elected unopposed during the Phase-I of the elections to the vacant seats of Sarpanchs and Panchs are women particularly in the Kashmir valley. Moreover, nearly 50% Panch seats in both Kashmir and Jammu divisions have been filled without any contest while as there is competition on majority of the Sarpanch constituencies.
As per the figures of State Election Commission (SEC), a total of 1669 Panch constituencies—1551 in the Kashmir valley and 118 in Jammu division were notified for elections in Phase-I.
Out of 1551 Panch constituencies in Kashmir valley, 711 segments witnessed no contest as there was only one candidate for each and they were declared elected unopposed by the Election Authority.
Among 711 Panchs elected unopposed in Kashmir valley, 493 are males and 218 females. Majority of the females have been elected unopposed from Baramulla (61), Anantnag (46), Budgam (29) and Kulgam (26).
As far as Jammu region is concerned, there was only one contestant each for 54 Panch constituencies as such they were declared elected unopposed while as there was contest on remaining 64 seats. Those elected without any contest include 37 males and 20 females and majority of women Panches have been elected unopposed in Kishtwar district (13) followed by Doda (2).
In totality, against 1669 Panch constituencies which were notified during Phase-I of elections held on November 28, 768 posts got filled without any contest. Among those who have been declared elected unopposed are 530 males and 238 females.
“The figures particularly of Kashmir valley districts clearly indicate that there are large number of women who want to represent their people and play their role in ensuring development of their respective areas”, independent observers said, adding “participation of Kashmir valley women in the democratic exercise is also significant in the light of the fact that anti-national elements never leave any chance to terrorize those having faith in the democracy”.
In most of the districts which witnessed first phase polling, nearly 50% vacant posts of Panchs got filled without any contest. In Kupwara, there was no contest on 37 out of total 79 seats while as 187 seats out of 370 got filled without competition in Baramulla. Similarly there was only one candidate each for 50 out of total 99 constituencies in Bandipora, for 72 out of 124 in Ganderbal, 25 out of 61 in Srinagar, 75 out of 119 in Budgam, 49 out of 122 in Shopian, 87 out of 219 in Kulgam and 109 out of 217 in Anantnag.
Same scenario has also been witnessed in Jammu region although the number of Panch constituencies which went to polls was far less as compared to the Kashmir valley.
As far as Sarpanch constituencies are concerned, a total of 36 candidates-15 males and 18 females have been elected unopposed. In Kashmir valley, 34 out of 117 seats have been filled without any competition while as in Jammu there was only one candidate each in two seats out of total 29 seats which were notified for election in Phase-I of the by-polls.
While 18 females have been elected unopposed for the posts of Sarpanchs in Kashmir valley none was elected unopposed in Jammu region and this clearly indicates that there is competition for 110 posts of Sarpanchs in the Phase-I.
Maximum Sarpanchs have been elected unopposed in Kulgam (8), Baramulla (7), Shopian (5) and Ganderbal and Pulwama (4 each). In Jammu, one Sarpanch each has been elected unopposed in Doda and Ramban.
As per State Election Commission, in the Phase-II, Sarpanch elections will be conducted in 83 constituencies and total 223 candidates are contesting including 151 male and 72 female. Similarly, in Panchs by-polls, going to be held in 331 constituencies, total 709 candidates are in fray including 552 males and 157 females for 331 vacant seats.
As per the Commission, 58 Sarpanchs (29 males, 29 females) and 804 Panchs (548 males and 256 females) have been elected unopposed in the Phase-II.