Saturday, October 27, 2007


GANGTOK, October 26: The Gram and Zilla Panchayat elections were conducted smoothly and peacefully all over the State today.
The polling process started from 8 am after the polling stations were opened. Electronic Voting Machines were used for the first time ever in the civil polls in Sikkim. An estimated 1.41 lakh electorate cast their franchise today to decide the fate of 835 candidates in the fray for 47 Zilla Panchayat and 304 gram Panchayat seats amid tight security arrangements.
No poll rigging or disturbances were reported from any polling booths across the State.
The poll fever was missing from the Capital and its surrounding areas as it has been declared as Municipal Area for which the voting will be held next year in January.
The State Election Commission had set up 524 polling stations across the four Districts and deployed 3144 polling personnel and 1048 policemen to conduct free and fair polls for 47 Zilla Panchayat seats out of a total of 93 seats of which 45 candidates have been elected unopposed pending a formal announcement after the conclusion of polls. With regard to the gram Panchayat polls, a total of 711 candidates are contesting 304 seats out of 889 of which 585 candidates have been elected unopposed pending an official announcement.
Today’s polls saw a huge turnout of women voters, perhaps bolstered by the 40 per cent reservation accorded to them in the Panchayat by the State Government.
“We enjoy 40 per cent reservation as compared to women of other States in the country, so what can be more exhilarating and encouraging than this,” Devika Chettri, a female voter from Aho Yangtham Ward under Losing Pacheykhani constituency, said while talking with SIKKIM EXPRESS.
CP Dewan, State Election Commissioner informed that EVM malfunctions were reported from Lower Tintek (East Sikkim), Perbing, Melli Gonpa, Kaetang (South Sikkim) and Kaluk in West Sikkim. “Although no such technical snags were reported from North District, the default EVM Machines were replaced immediately in other three Districts,” Mr. Dewan informed.
Lower Lingzya in North Sikkim was recorded as the ward with least voters. The ward had only 48 voters while Melli Ward of South Sikkim recorded maximum voters with 1,179 voters.
As per the information received from the State Election Commission, there were a total of 841 contesting candidates both for Gram as well as for Zilla Panchayats. For the Gram Panchayat the election were held in 304 wards for 717 contesting candidates. Meanwhile for 47 Zilla Panchayat seats there were 124 candidates contesting.
The latest data reveals 575 Gram Panchayat and 46 Zilla Panchayats as uncontested winners including one independent Panchayat candidate and the rest are all SDF party candidates.
Interestingly, this year’s rural poll also saw the participation of Opposition parties such as the Sikkim Pradesh Congress and Sikkim Gorkha Prajatantrik Party. The Sikkim Himali Rajya Parishad (SHRP) and Sikkim State Bharatiya Janata Party boycotted the elections. On the other hand, although the SDF party has already secured 66% win uncontested the. Most the independent candidates who withdrew their nominations unofficially were also seen busy campaigning and supporting the ruling party candidates.
The voting ended at 4 pm in the evening after which the EVM machines were sealed in front of the contesting candidates and were sent to the Strong Rooms under the thorough vigil and supervision of the Police.
The counting of the votes will be held on October 29 from 8 am at Indoor Gymnasium Hall for the East District. For other three Districts the counting will be held at Indoor Gymnasium Hall (Namchi), Zilla Bhawan, Gyalshing and Zilla Bhawan, Mangan. The election for Nabey Shotak ward under Kabi Tingda constituency will be held on November 24. No nominations were made from the said ward earlier.
Likewise, the selection of Adyakshas and Up-Adyakshas from Zilla Panchayats will be held on November 5. Meanwhile the selection of Sabhapati, Upa-sabhapati and Sachiv will be on November 6 for Gram Panchayat Units.
However, till the filing of this report the total voting turn in the State as per official statement was 90 per cent.
In the South District, the public voted for 106 wards for the Gram Panchayat representatives in which a total of 265 candidates were in the fray. The fates of 38 candidates in 13 Zilla Panchayat Territorial Constituencies in 183 polling booths were also sealed today in the South District.
In both the Gram and Zilla Panchayats, the Independent candidates in fray were more in comparison to the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front party and other Opposition parties in other three Districts.
The Electronic Voting Machines will be reaching to Namchi District headquarters under the tight security by tonight today. Although the official statement is yet to come, observers hint that more than 80 per cent votes were polled today in the South District.
In the West District, out of the nine constituencies, all the candidates from two constituencies of Chakung and Hee-Bermiok were declared uncontested. In the remaining seven constituencies, people voted for eight Zilla Panchayats and 35 Gram Panchayat Units.
There were seven GPUs in Yoksam, six from Tashiding, six from Gyalshing, three from Daramdin, five from Soreng and nine from Rinchepong. In the Zilla Panchayats, there were one each from Dentam and Rinchenpong and two each from Tashiding, Daramdin and Soreng.