Many rural areas in Ladakh, the cold desert of the country, have unanimously elected new sarpanches and panches for the restoration of grass-roots level democracy.
Nearly 40 per cent sarpanches and 94 per cent panches in Leh district have already been elected unopposed even as the panchayat elections are to start in the Ladakh region from November 17.
A total of 31 blocks, including 16 in Leh district and 15 in Kargil district, will go to the polls in first three phases of the nine-phase panchayat elections.
According to officials, over 40 per cent candidates for the posts of sarpanch have been elected unopposed while about 94 per cent nominees have been declared elected unopposed for the posts of panch in Leh district.
“At least 39 of the total 95 panchayat halqas in Leh district will have no contest as candidates in these segments have been declared elected unopposed. Similarly, at least 642 candidates have been declared elected unopposed against the total 687 panch constituencies,” Udham Dass Sharma, Deputy District Election Officer (DDEO), Leh
The DDEO said the elections in 56 panchayat halqas and 23 panch segments would be held in three phases on November 17, November 20 and November 24.
“There is no candidate for 22 panch constituencies which are reserved for women due to various reasons, including the lack of Scheduled Tribe category certificates and other formalities required in the election process,” Sharma said.
Sources said a similar trend was witnessed in several parts of Kargil district but the details with regard to unopposed elected candidates of the district were not available.
At least 10 blocks —six in Leh and four in Kargil — are going to the polls in the first phase on November 17.
“In these 10 blocks, there are around 33 panchayats having at least 110 polling stations which are either snow-bound or vulnerable to heavy snowfall by second week of next month. For at least six or seven panchayats, the administration will have to requisition helicopters to ferry the polling staff to their respective polling stations,” a senior official said.