J&K administration announces panchayat by-elections to be held in eight phases in March


New Delhi: The Jammu and Kashmir administration announced on Thursday that the panchayat by-elections will be held in the union territory in eight phases the month of March.

The by-elections for over 12,500 panchayat seats will be the first major political exercise after the BJP government scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August last year, turned it into a union territory and carved out the union territory of Ladakh from the erstwhile state.

“Polling would be held from March 5 to March 20 and ballots would be used for casting votes. The polling hours will be from 9 am to 1 pm. Votes will be counted and results will be declared on the same day,” he added.

The first phase of the bypolls will be held on March 5, followed by second on March 7, third on March 9, fourth on March 12, fifth on March 14, sixth on March 16, seventh on March 18 and last on March 20, he said.

“Out of 137 blocks in Kashmir, 128 having 887 Panchayat Halqas will go to polls for 11,457 vacant panch constituencies. Similarly, out of 148 blocks in Jammu, 146 having 124 Panchayat Halqas will go to polls for 182 vacant panch constituencies,” said Shailendra Kumar, chief electoral officer of Jammu and Kashmir.

Roughly 60 per cent of the total panchayat seats in the union territory remained vacant even after the last edition in November-December 2018 due to lack of participation in the electoral process. Two major parties of Jammu and Kashmir - National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party - had boycotted these polls.

“The model code conduct comes into force from today itself (Thursday) in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Kumar.

The CEO informed that polls in snowbound areas like Marwah and Dachhan in Kishtwar and Gurez in Kupwara will be held at a later stage. He also said that ballot boxes will be used for the exercise.

In the last panchyat elections, a total of 22,214 panch and 3,459 sarpanch were elected out of a total of 33,592 panch and 4,290 sarpanch constituencies.


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