In the first major exercise of electoral rights after the abrogation of Article 370, the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) poll panel has announced to hold District Development Council (DDC) polls in the Indian union territory to be held in eight phases from November 28 to December 22.
The polls for the vacant seats of sarpanchs and panchs and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) would also be held simultaneously with the DDC Polls.
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.
Addressing a press conference, the newly appointed State Election Commissioner, K.K Sharma said that the polls would take place through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) while postal ballots would be available for Covid-19 patients in isolation, senior citizens and physically unwell patients. D
“DC elections will be held on party basis whereas Panchayat byelections will be held on non-political basis,” he said.
Sharma said that electoral rolls used in Sarpanch and Panch elections that have been updated on January 1, 2020, will be used for the DDC polls. “With the announcement of DDC polls, model code of conduct is in vogue from today onwards,” he said.
Five standing committees — one each for finance, development, public works, health and education and welfare — will be constituted in every District Development Council.
The DDC would be responsible for the formulation of development programmes and speedy development and economic upliftment of the area under its authority.
Sharma informed the delimitation has been done for the constituencies and 280 DDCs have been identified across the J&K. The term of the DDC will be for five years. “Each DDC will have 14 constituencies,” Sharma said.
The polls would also be held subsequently for 228 vacant seats of ULBs. “The expenditure limit for the DDC polls per candidate is Rs 5 lakh, one lakh for Sarpanch seat and Rs 50,000 for Panch seat,” Sharma said.
This will be the first time that West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs), Valmikies and Gurkhas will be entitled to exercise their right to vote.
The mainstream political parties which includes National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peoples Conference (PC) and Congress, who have recently formed a People’s Alliance for the restoration of Article 370, are yet to decide to participate in the DDC polls.