Panchayat polls in J&K from March 5

Mubashir Bukhari

Jammu (NVI): By-election to over 12,500 vacant panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir will be held from March 5 to March 20, Chief Electoral Officer Shailender Kumar said here today.

Addressing the media, he said polling will be held in eight phases.

He said that from now onwards, the Model Code of Conduct is enforced and it will be implementable in all the places where elections are being held.

The first phase of polling will take place on March 5, while the second phase is scheduled for March 7. The third, fourth and fifth phase of voting will take place on March 9, 12 and 14, respectively. The EC has scheduled sixth, seventh and eighth phases for March 16, 18 and 20.

“Panchayat elections for vacant posts of every block will be held using ballot boxes. It will be conducted in eight phases,” Kumar said.

“There will be eight phases of elections. For Jammu division, it is four phases and for Kashmir division, it is eight phases,” he said.

Kumar said that no request has been received over the conducting of polls in Ladakh Union Territory.

“Union Territory of Ladakh has not yet sent us a request for the conduct of elections so we have not included Ladakh. In any case, Ladakh is snow-bound and it is very cold out there. So, it is not feasible to have an election at this point in time,” he said

Panchayat elections were conducted in November-December 2018 for 4483 Panchayats with a Sarpanch for each Panchayat Halqa and 35029 Panches in Jammu and Kashmir. However, over 60 percent Panchayat seats are lying vacant in the new Union Territory.

Out of 20093 Panch and Sarpanch seats, only 6162 Panches and 1366 Sarpanches were elected in Kashmir. Around 12565 constituencies are lying vacant.

In Jammu, 15800 Panches and 2289 Sarpanches were elected where 166 seats are lying vacant. In Ladakh, 45 seats are lying vacant.

National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party had boycotted both Panchayat and Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls. While Panchayat polls were held on non-party basis, the ULB elections were held on party basis. Later elections for Block Development Council were also held in Jammu and Kashmir.