Union Territory of Ladakh Gears Up for Municipal and Panchayat Elections Ahead of Winter

Union Territory of Ladakh Gears Up for Municipal and Panchayat Elections Ahead of Winter Image/Daily Excelsior
Union Territory of Ladakh Gears Up for Municipal and Panchayat Elections Ahead of Winter Image/Daily Excelsior
Union Territory of Ladakh Gears Up for Municipal and Panchayat Elections Ahead of Winter Image/Daily Excelsior
Union Territory of Ladakh Gears Up for Municipal and Panchayat Elections Ahead of Winter Image/Daily Excelsior

Union Territory of Ladakh Gears Up for Municipal and Panchayat Elections Ahead of Winter

Union Territory of Ladakh Gears Up for Municipal and Panchayat Elections Ahead of Winter

Former Senior IAS Officer Appointed as State Election Commissioner

In preparation for the forthcoming Municipal and Panchayat elections in the Union Territory of Ladakh, the administration has appointed Sudanshu Pandey, a former senior IAS officer, as the State Election Commissioner (SEC). These elections are scheduled to take place before the onset of winter when extreme weather conditions make conducting elections nearly impossible.

Appointment of Sudanshu Pandey as State Election Commissioner

Sudanshu Pandey, previously a senior bureaucrat from the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir cadre, recently assumed the role of State Election Commissioner (SEC) for the Union Territory of Ladakh. He was administered the oath of office by Ladakh Lieutenant Governor Brig (Retd) B D Mishra. Mr. Pandey, now serving as the Common Election Commissioner of Union Territories, is presently in Ladakh to discuss preparations for the upcoming polls.

Simultaneous Municipal and Panchayat Elections

The Union Territory Administration in Ladakh has embarked on preparations for conducting both Municipal and Panchayat elections simultaneously. In 2018, when Ladakh was part of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, Municipal elections were held in October, followed by Panchayat polls in November. However, the harsh winter, marked by heavy snowfall, begins in December and renders the region inaccessible, making it impossible to conduct any elections during this period.

Formalities for Panchayat Elections

The Rural Development Department (RDD) of Ladakh, under the leadership of Amit Sharma, has initiated the necessary procedures for the Panchayat elections. These formalities include revising Panchayat electoral rolls, rotating reserved Wards for Women, and delimitation of Sarpanch and Panch segments, if required.

Administrative Structure

Ladakh currently consists of only two Municipalities, one in Leh and one in Kargil, along with 193 Panchayats, 98 in Kargil and 95 in Leh. Each of the twin Municipalities comprises 13 Wards. The last elections for these bodies were held in September-November 2018 when Ladakh was part of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir. It became a separate Union Territory on August 5, 2019, following the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir and the abrogation of its special status.

Unique Administrative Setup

In contrast to the three-tier Panchayati Raj system in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh operates with a two-tier system consisting of Panchayats and Block Development Councils (BDCs). It does not have the third tier, District Development Councils (DDCs), as Leh and Kargil already have Autonomous Hill Development Councils.

Ongoing Elections to LAHDC Kargil

Presently, the UT Election Authority is focused on conducting elections for the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil. Polling for the 26-member LAHDC Kargil is scheduled for October 4, with the counting of votes on October 8. These elections were originally scheduled for September but were delayed following a legal dispute over candidate symbols.

This transition marks an important step in the region’s journey towards building a more representative and efficient governance structure.

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