By: ML Verma
Shimla (Oct 20): Thousands of new eligible voters who have attained their voting right in year 2010 will not be able to participate in the panchayat polls in Himachal Pradesh, to be announced anytime soon, due to technicality in the polling process.
Talking to HimVani, secretary, State Election Commissioner, Sharabh Negi, said that many new voters who have attained the age of 18 years this year will not be able to participate in the polling process as the new electoral rolls being prepared by the Election Commission have a cut-off date as January 1, 2010. He revealed that 2 to 3 per cent new voters get enrolled every year, but are not able to case their votes in case where notification for polls has already been made.
It is worthwhile to mention here that tenure of about 3,243 Gram Panchayat, 75 Panchayat Samiti, 12 Zila Parishad, 32 Nagar Panchayats, and 20 Nagar Parishads is going to expire on January 23, 2011.
The state Chief Minister had recently stated that the government was contemplating to hold Panchayati Raj polls in January 2011. Negi denied that the cut-off date would be changed if poll were to be held in January 2011. He accepted that fresh candidates attaining the age limit of 18 before 2011 would not be able to take part in the polls, but expressed helplessness terming it a technical necessity.
Another shortcoming of the poll process would be that the basis of election would be held on the Census report of 2001, however, Census report 2011 is already completed and is to be made public in April 2011.
The Election Commission of India has banned re-oganisation of new PRIs and administrative bodies years ago in the wake of fresh census exercise.
According to the 2001 census report, the state has a rural population of 54,82319 out of total 60,77,900 in 17,495 inhabited villages. Himachal Pradesh and Tripura are among few states in India that have announced 50 per cent reservation for woman candidates in PRIs.