The municipal polls in Jammu and Kashmir, set to be held in the state after 13 years, will be held in four phases, the dates for which were announced on Saturday. The elections will be held from October 8 to 16, Chief Electoral Officer, J&K, Shaleen Kabra said in a press conference. Voting will take place in four phases on October 8, 10, 13 and 16 respectively, he said. Meanwhile, dates for the panchayat polls, scheduled for November, will be announced on Sunday.
With the announcement of the schedule for the elections, the Model Code of Conduct has come into place, Kabra, said. Following the polls, votes will be counted on October 20 and the process of elections will be completed on October 27.
With regard to security, a major concern raised in the run-up to the polls, Kabra said, “We are duty bound and we are going to provide an atmosphere for conduct of free and fair elections, including adequate security.”
Municipal polls will be conducted on party lines, however, the major regional parties of J&K – the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC) – have already announced their decision not to participate in these polls. Both parties had stated that the Centre should clarify its stand on Article 35A, the validity of which has been challenged in the Supreme Court. In August, Centre had sought a delay in the date of hearing in the case from the Apex Court citing the conduct of municipal and panchayat elections in the state.
Meanwhile, for the first time, EVMs are being used in municipal polls, following amendment of rules in 2016. Additionally, voting by migrants is being allowed for the first time, by means of postal ballots.
“In the past two months, we have revised electoral rolls and the final list has been published,” the CEO said. 322 of the 1,145 wards have been reserved for women, while, 90 reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates and 30 reserved for Scheduled Tribes.
17 lakh voters will elect representatives to 79 municipal bodies in the state including the Jammu and Srinagar Municipal Corporations.