Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir poll panel on Wednesday announced an eight-phase election to 20 district development councils (DDCs) in the union territory beginning November 28, in the first major electoral exercise since the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year.
The government had in October amended the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act to provide for setting up of District Development Councils in each district which will have directly elected members, marking the implementation of the entire 73rd Constitutional Amendment in the union territory.
State Election Commissioner K K Sharma told a press conference here that by-elections to vacant panchayat and municipal seats will be held simultaneously,
The notification for the first-phase polling on November 28 will be issued on Thursday, he said.
The last phase of polling will take place on December 19 and the counting of votes will take place on December 22, said Sharma, flanked by Chief Electoral Officer Hardesh Kumar.
After taking into consideration all relevant factors and inputs from various stakeholders, it was decided to hold the election to 20 DDCs — 10 each in Jammu and Kashmir — in eight phases, Sharma said. There will be 14 constituencies in each DDC, he added.
While the election to DDCs and panchayat bypolls will be through ballot, by-election to municipal seats will be conducted through electronic voting machine (EVM).
This will be for the first time that West Pakistani refugees, Valmikies and Gurkhas will be exercising their franchise in these elections.
Mainstream parties in Kashmir have not yet announced whether their will take part in the electoral exercise.
While DDC polls will be held on party basis, panchayat bypolls will be on non-party basis, Kumar said.
By-elections will be held in 12,153 panchayat seats and 234 urban local wards.
The Centre has fully applied the 73rd Constitutional Amendment to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which was pending for 28 years. With this, all three tiers of panchayati raj institutions will be formed in Jammu and Kashmir for the first time.