LIKE THE previous three phases of panchayat by-elections, which are being held along with the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir, voting will be held in less than 18 per cent of panch seats and nearly 40 per cent of sarpanch seats, which were notified for the fourth phase of elections on Monday.
Sources said out of the 1,207 panch vacancies notified for polls, voting will take place for only 216 seats. While candidates in 416 seats have been elected unopposed, in the remaining seats no nomination papers were filed.
Similarly, out of the 123 sarpanch seats notified for polls in the fourth phase, polling will be held in 50. While candidates stand elected unopposed in 45 seats, there are no contestants for the remaining 28.
Almost all these vacancies are in Kashmir Valley, where militants have been targeting elected panchayat members.
In the third phase held on December 4, a total of 1,738 panch and 126 sarpanch vacancies were notified for polling. Out of them, polling took place for only 327 panch seats as no one filed nomination papers for 613 seats. In the remaining 798 seats, candidates had been elected unopposed. Similarly, polling took place for 66 sarpanch seats as there was no candidate for 20 seats and candidates for 40 vacancies were elected unopposed.
The situation was no different in earlier two phases of polling held on November 28 and December 1.
In the 2018 panchayat elections for 33,592 panches and 4,290 sarpaches, 22,214 panches and 3, 459 sarpanches were elected. Following the election of chairpersons of Block Development Councils in 2019, another 307 seats of panches and sarpanches fell vacant.
A total of 12,153 panch and 1.088 sarpanch vacancies are going to the polls this year. Of these, 11,814 panch and 935 sarpanch vacancies are in the Valley.
About the DDC elections, sources said 7.17 lakh voters will decide the fate of 249 candidates, who are in the fray in 34 constituencies going to polls on Monday. Of these, 17 DDC constituencies each are in Kashmir and Jammu divisions.
There are 1,910 polling stations set up across the Union Territory for this phase—781 in Jammu and 1,129 in Kashmir. Out of these, 1,152 have been categorised as hypersensitive and 349 as sensitive. The rest have been categorised as normal. Polling shall be conducted from 7 am to 2 pm, an official statement said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines