Eight-phase Panchayat bypolls for 12650 vacant seats from March 5

Agencies. Updated: 2/14/2020 10:35:45 AM Front Page

Polling in Jammu to end on Mar 12; on Mar 20 in Valley

JAMMU: After remaining without representation for fourteen months, as many as 1011 Panchayat halqas will elect candidates for over 12,650 vacant seats of Sarpanches and Panches, in the Panchayat by-election from March 5.
The elections spread over eight phases will end on March 20, while the entire process would be completed by March 26.
The Model Code of Conduct has come into force with immediate effect will the announcement of the bypoll schedule, said the Union Territory’s Chief Electoral Officer Shailender Kumar on Thursday, adding that ballots would be used for casting votes.
“After taking into consideration all relevant factors and inputs from various stakeholders, the Jammu and Kashmir election authority has prepared the schedule for the bypolls to panchayat halqas and panch wards. Issuance of the first notification would be on February 15,” Kumar said addressing a press conference here.
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.
The votes will be cast from 9 am to 1 pm and the counting to votes will be taken up the same day, followed by announcement of results.
The first phase will see highest number of districts—vacant seats in all 10 in Kashmir, and six in Jammu—going to polls, while last phase will witness only three Valley districts’ vacancies filled up.
The polls in Jammu region will conclude on March 12, with all the vacant seats undergoing elections in first four phases only.
The Panchayat election was held in November-December, 2018, and 22,214 panches and 3,459 sarpanches were elected in out of 33,592 panch and 4,290 sarpanch constituencies, leaving 11378 Panches seats and 831 Sarpanches seats vacant.
Further vacancies have accrued on various accounts such as deaths and resignations.
“Also as a result of polls to block development committee (BDCs) chairpersons in October 2019, another 307 seats of panch and sarpanch fell vacant,” Kumar said.
“Now as many as 11,639 panch seats and 1,011 sarpanch seats will undergo polling and the process completed by March 26,” he said.
He said that the candidates elected during these by-elections shall hold office for the remainder of the period of five years commencing from the date of constitution of Halqa Panchayat.
"Ballot boxes would be used during these elections. Sufficient number of ballot boxes have been made available for the purpose," the chief electoral officer said.
The expenditure limit for contesting candidates has been set at Rs 1 lakh for Sarpanch election, and Rs 30000 for Panch election, even as the district panchayat election officers (deputy commissioners) have been instructed to arrange sufficient numbers of video and digital cameras and teams for video-graphing the bypolls.
In order to enable Kashmiri Migrant voters to exercise their franchise through postal ballots, ''Migrant Postal Ballot'' scheme was notified for the 2018 panchayat elections, Kumar added.
The announcement of schedule comes two day after the Jammu and Kashmir government called upon the vacant Panchayat Halqas across the union territory to elect 12650 Sarpanches and Panches.
There are 124 Panchayat Halqas without representation in Jammu region while the number stands at 890 in Kashmir division, while the number of vacant seats of Panches is 182 and 11457, respectively.
In Jammu region, Doda district has 16 Panchayat Halqas and 17 Panch seats vacant, while in Jammu district the numbers are 15 and 25 respectively. 10 Panchayat Halqas and 9 Panch seats are vacant in Kishtwar, while the respective number for Kathua is 19 and 19, Poonch 8 and 18, Ramban 10 and 19, Samba 5 and 20, Reasi 9 and 14, Udhampur 16 and 15, and Rajouri 16 and 26.
Similarly, in Kashmir division, Anantnag has 135 Panchayat Halqas and 1995 Panch seats vacant, while in Baramulla district the numbers are 148 and 2163, respectively. 157 Panchayat Halqas and 1941 Panch seats are vacant in Budgam, while the respective number for Bandipora is 45 and 603, Ganderbal 41 and 685, Kulgam 103 and 968, Kupwara 25 and 768, Pulwama 151 and 1437, Shopian 73 and 742, and Srinagar 9 and 155.
For Phase-I the date of issuance of Gazette Notification would be 15 February, last date for making nomination would be 22 February, date of scrutiny would be 24 February, last date for withdrawal of candidature would be 26 February. The dates for phase-II would be 17 February, 24 February, 25 February, 27 February, respectively ; For Phase III, the dates would be 19 February, 26 February, 27 February, respectively; For Phase IV, the dates would be 22 February, 29 February, 2 March, 4 March, respectively; For Phase V, the dates would be 24 February, 2 March, 3 March, 5 March, respectively; For Phase VI, the dates would be 26 February, 4 March, 5 March, 7 March, respectively; For Phase VII, the dates would be 28 February, 6 March, 7 March, 9 March, respectively; and for Phase VIII, the dates would be 29 February, 7 March, 9 March, 11 March, respectively.
Following these elections, the government aims to conduct elections for the District Planning and Development Boards in March- April this year.
With the couple of vacant seats in the Block Development Councils expected to be filled anytime soon, the government wants to establish third-tier of Panchayati Raj in Jammu and Kashmir.

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