Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held in nine-phases beginning November 17, the state’s Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra said Sunday.
“Around 58 lakh electorate will be eligible to vote in the 35,096 panch constituencies. We expect a very good participation of the people in the polls, he said.
The notification for the first phase will be issued on Oct 23.
“There will be a nine-phase poll for Panchayat elections which will be held on non-party basis, Kabra told reporters here adding counting of votes would take place on the same day or the very next day.
Additional ballot boxes will be brought from the neighbouring states; he said adding there will be two kinds of ballot papers as sarpanches also have to be elected directly in these polls this time.
Polling will be held on November 17, 20, 24, 27 and 29 and December 1, 4, 8 and 11, the CEO said.
The poll hours would be between 8 AM to 2 PM, Kabra said adding the entire poll process would be completed by December 17.
The polls would be held through ballot and migrant Kashmiri Pandits can also vote through postal ballots, the CEO said.
Kabra said there are a total of 4490 panchayat halqas in 316 blocks throughout the state.
The CEO said the election expenditure has been increased in these elections to Rs 20,000 for Sarpanches and Rs 5000 for Panches.
He said the schedule has been framed in such a way that places, which get snowfall early, have been kept in the first phase of the poll.
On security for the polls, 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 feel free and fair elections, in an atmosphere which is peaceful, would be possible”.
Yesterday, the state’s chief electoral officer announced a four-phase election to urban local bodies from October 8.
It was speculated that the polls may be deferred in the state after two main political parties the NC and the PDP announced staying away from the polls until the Centre gave an assurance to protect Article 35A, against which a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court.
Article 35A, incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, confers special status to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, and bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property in the state.