Haryana announces panchayat poll dates

Chandigarh, Sep 8 (IANS) Haryana announced panchayat poll dates on Tuesday, a day after the state assembly passed a bill making it mandatory for contesting candidates to possess minimum educational qualifications and also ensure that they have a functional toilet at home.

The state election commission announced the three-phase elections to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) for nearly 72,000 posts of panchayat members, panchayat samitis and zila parishads will be held on October 4, 11 and 18.

“Elections would be conducted for 393 posts of members of 20 zila parishads, 2,932 posts of 123 panchayat samitis and 6,197 and 62,471 posts of sarpanches and panches respectively,” State Election Commissioner Rajeev Sharma told media at Panchkula, adjoining Chandigarh.

The Haryana assembly had on Monday passed a bill under which candidates for panchayat elections in the state will have to ensure academic qualifications and fulfil other conditions.

Under the new bill, contesting candidates will require a minimum qualification of matriculation (Class 10).

Scheduled Caste and women candidates will require middle pass (class 8) qualification and women candidates from Scheduled Caste category will have to be at least class 5 pass.

The bill also makes it mandatory for contesting candidates to ensure that they have a functional toilet at home.

The candidates must also ensure that they do not have any criminal charges against them, have not defaulted on loans from cooperative banks and have paid their electricity bills.

The BJP government in Haryana had brought an ordinance last month on these qualifications, but the Punjab and Haryana High Court had stayed the new conditions following a petition filed before it.

Sharma said that all preparations had been made to ensure independent, unbiased and peaceful elections.

He said 21,475 polling booths have been set up, of which 4,123 have been classified as sensitive and 4,265 as hypersensitive.

Nominations for the elections begin on September 15.

“Electronic Voting Machines will be used for the election of sarpanch and members of zila parishads while ballot paper would be used for elections for panches and members of panchayat samitis,” Sharma said.

Over 1.10 crore voters are eligible to vote in the elections, including 5,104,621 women.

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