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Poll schedule for vacant Panchayat seats likely to be announced next week

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Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government is likely to announce the schedule for elections to vacant Panchayat seats by the end of this month.

Last month, the administration constituted 14- member apex level and two divisional level committees for drawing a roadmap and detailed schedule for the conduct of Panchayat and BDC elections with a special focus on security, logistics, and other aspects.


Sources said the preparations have been completed and the administration would now announce the schedule for the polls.

“Based upon an assessment of manpower, security, logistics, transport, equipment, and all other requirements, the Divisional Level Committees made an outline of the possibilities and constraints,” they said.

Jammu and Kashmir administration held Panchayat elections in November 2018 after delaying it for more than two years. The election, which saw a voter turnout of 74 percent, left 11639 Panch and 1,011 Sarpanch seats vacant in Jammu and Kashmir.

As many as 22,214 Panches and 3,459 Sarpanches were elected.

Chief Electoral Officer Jammu and Kashmir, Hridesh Kumar Singh told The Kashmir Monitor that the entire election process shall be completed in the next two months.

“We will announce dates at a proper time. All the preparation both at district and divisional levels are being made now and the election is most likely to be held in November-December,” he said.

As per the notification of the Chief Electoral Officer, the administration has already set into motion the process of procuring ballot boxes for Panchayat by-elections.

It states that the administration has invited tenders from manufacturers to supply ballot boxes for forthcoming District Council Election and Panchayat by-election in the union territory.

In 2018, regional parties, including the NC and PDP, had boycotted the Panchayat elections citing security reasons.

 Panchayat members have demanded fool-proof security for candidates and elected Panches and Sarpanches given the recent attacks on political workers.

 Additionally,  the administration is also bracing up to hold the first-ever District Development Council elections.

Last week, the Centre amended the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, to pave way for holding District Development Council polls.

Each district in the Union Territory will be divided into 14 territorial constituencies and the members of the council will be directly elected by voters.

The representatives will, in turn, elect a chairperson and a vice-chairperson from amongst themselves. The councils will replace District Development Boards, which when Jammu and Kashmir was a state, were chaired by a Cabinet minister or a minister of state and included MLAs, MLCs, and MPs.