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J&K BDC elections were far from democratic

Poornima Joshi New Delhi | Updated on October 28, 2019 Published on October 28, 2019

Of the total 307 blocks, 81 were won by the BJP; one by the Congress; eight by J&K Panthers Party and 217 by independents.   -  istock/jcrosemann

Data reveal the exercise has been painted as a step to normalcy

Government records of the just-concluded Block Development Council (BDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) reveal the totally farcical nature of a democratic exercise that has been painted as a major step towards normalcy in the troubled border state.

The Chief Electoral Officer of J&K has declared the results of elections held for the total 307 blocks in the State. Of these, 81 were won by the BJP; one by the Congress; eight by J&K Panthers Party and 217 by independents. These BDC chairpersons were elected by 26,629 Sarpanchs and Panchs who had, in turn, been declared winners after a direct election for the Panchayats held last year.

To get a clear picture about the facts of the indirect BDC elections, the results of the direct Panchayat elections last year have to be examined. Taking Shopian district, where the BJP won all eight blocks for which BDC elections were held, as a test case, the shocking reality of these elections can be revealed in tangible numbers.

According to the Panchayat electoral rolls, Shopian district in the Kashmir division has nine blocks, 98 Panchayat Halqas, 791 Panch constituencies and 1,45,442 voters.

In the Panchayat polls held for Shopian in different phases between November 23, 2018 and December 10, 2018, each of the Panchs and the Sarpanchs were “elected unopposed”, that is, there were no opposing candidates, no voters and no polling.

One man, multiple posts

 

The details of these “nominated” Panchs and Sarpanchs in the eight blocks of Shopian, which the BJP has now won BDC elections are even more significant. According to the Directorate of Rural Development Department, Kashmir, almost each of these Panchayats seems to have nominated members of one or two families. In most of the Panchayats, one member of a family is occupying multiple posts of Panchs and Sarpanchs. For instance, in Mastapura Panchayat Halqa of Keller block in Shopian, an individual named Javid Ahmad Qadri is occupying three posts of Panch from Mashwar 7, Mashwar 3 and Mastapura 1 constituencies. Similarly in Imamsahib block, the Sarpanch of the Handew Panchayat Halqa is a woman named Usha Bhat, who is the wife of Brij Nath Bhat. Brij Nath Bhat, on his part, occupies two posts of Panch from Handew 1 and Handew 3 Panch constituencies whereas Usha Bhat is not only the Sarpanch; she is also the Panch of Handew 2 Panch constituency.

Going further, in Chootigam Panchayat of Hermain block, the Sarpanch is Vijaya Koul, who is the son of Ashok Kumar Koul. Ashok Kumar Koul is himself a Panch from Khanwara 6 constituency in the same Panchayat Halqa, whereas Chand Ji Koul has been declared elected Panch from as many as three constituencies – Abalwani 10, Chootigam 3 and Abalwani 9.

This pool of “elected unopposed” Panchs and Sarpanchs, almost all of whom belong to select families, has now gotten together to elect BDC chairpersons. BJP has won eight out of eight blocks for which elections were held in Shopian.

 

Published on October 28, 2019
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