The State Election Commission on Wednesday issued the much-awaited notification for panchayat elections. Across the State, 3,94,01,855 voters will exercise their franchise in the elections which be held in three phases on July 23, 27 and 31.
Among the voters, men comprise 1,96,49,114. Of the 21,592 panchayats, 21,491 will go to polls. The term of some panchayats has not yet expired and cases are pending in case of some others.
Though elections are not party-based, principal political parties have been busy preparing cadres to ensure victory of candidates backed by them. 6,963 panchayats will go to polls in the first phase on July 23, 7,738 in the second phase on July 27 and 6,890 on July 31.
Unlike general elections, local polls will not be conducted region-wise.
Revenue divisions in each district are divided into three groups for the three-phased elections. All the 22 districts will have elections in three phases.
The highest number of 1,356 village panchayats are going to polls in Chittoor district and the lowest number of 672 in Ranga Reddy district which lost several panchayats to the Greater Hyderabad.
Elections will be conducted in 2,17,578 wards in the panchayats and as many as 1,32,066 ballot boxes will be used.
“The model code of conduct has come into effect from today,” State Election Commissioner P Ramakanth Reddy said. Asked if the code would be applicable if the Centre took any decision on State bifurcation, he replied he would not respond to hypothetical questions.
As the code is in force, any ministerial tour of any area in a district where elections are scheduled will be deemed an election tour.
A candidate aspiring to be a sarpanch can spend Rs 80,000 on elections if the panchayat has more than 10,000 population.
If the population is less than 10,000, the candidate’s expenditure should not exceed Rs 40,000. Likewise, the ward member’s election expenditure should not exceed Rs10,000 and Rs 6,000 respectively.