A DAY after the announcement of the schedule for the municipal elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the state election commission on Sunday announced that panchayat elections in the state will be held in nine phases from November.
The first phase will be held on November 17, three weeks after the completion of all formalities for the municipal elections.
“The last panchayat elections in the state were held in 2011 and the term of these elected bodies ended in 2016,” Chief Electoral Officer, J&K Shaleen Kabra said, while announcing the polls.
Polling will be held through ballot to elect representatives to 4,500 panchayat constituencies in 316 blocks.
With security remaining a key concern for conducting the elections, Kabra said, “One does not provide security per se to each person, it is the security environment, which is to be provided… we have looked into this aspect and are reasonably sure that free and fair elections… would be possible.”
The two main parties in the state — the NC and PDP — will not be participating in these elections. Both parties had raised concerns over the Centre’s position on Article 35A, which extends constitutional protection to Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
About 58 lakh voters will elect panches and sarpanches directly through ballot. For this, two separate colours of ballot papers will be used.
Like in the case of municipal polls, special provisions have been made for the Kashmiri migrant population to be able to cast their votes through ballot. “Voter slips will be distributed to 5812429 voters in Urdu and English language to make the voters aware about their respective polling stations. The voter identity cards will be compulsory for casting votes,” the CEO said. Expenditure limits have been enhanced to Rs 20,000 for sarpanch and Rs 5,000 for panch.
The notification for the first phase will be issued on October 23 and voting will take place on November 17, 20, 24, 27 and 29 and December 1, 4, 8 and will end with the last phase on December 11. Counting will be held on the same or the next day, Kabra said. All formalities for the panchayat elections will be completed by December 17.