DDC Election in Jammu and Kashmir: the first major electoral exercise since the abrogation of Article 370

SRINAGAR, Nov 5: In the first electoral exercise since the abrogation of article 370 in August, last year, the newly-created union territory of Jammu and Kashmir will hold elections to 20 District Development Councils (DDC) starting later this month.

The state election commissioner K K Sharma announced that the  DDC elections would be held in eight phases with the first phase of polling on November 28 and the final phase on December 19 with the counting of votes to be taken up on December 22. The notification for the first phase polling was scheduled to be issued by later Thursday evening.

Sharma said by-elections for 12,153 panchayat seats and 234 vacant urban municipal seats would also be taken up simultaneously. The election to DDCs and panchayat by-polls would be through ballot while the polling for municipal seats would be conducted through electronic voting machine (EVM). The DDC polls would be held on the party basis while the panchayat by-polls would be on non-party basis.

The central government had amended the Panchayati Raj act of Jammu and Kashmir to set up DDCs in each district and it will have directly elected members, marking the implementation of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment in the union territory.

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 Jammu and Kashmir did not indicate whether they will take part in the electoral exercise or not.

According to the media report, the Centre has fully applied the 73rd Constitutional Amendment to the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which had been pending for 28 years. With this, all three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions will be formed in Jammu and Kashmir for the first time.

(Vinayak Barot)