Srinagar: Despite boycott by the two main regional political parties, municipal and panchayat polls will be conducted as per schedule in Jammu & Kashmir. J&K Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra announced on Saturday that municipal polls will be held in four phases beginning October 8 and the results will be out October 20.
Municipal polls in Srinagar will be held in the first phase, on October 8 from 7am to 2pm. Elections in other urban areas will be held on October 10, 13 and 16. The counting for votes for all the polls across the state will be done on October 20.
Kabra said that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) will be put into use for the elections to 79 municipal bodies. The notification for Phase I of the polls, calling for nominations, would be issued on September 18, followed by September 20, 22 and the last on September 24 for the rest of the three phases.
The last date for filing of nominations in first phase will be September 25, for second phase September 27, for third phase September 29, and for the fourth phase, October 1.
The last date for withdrawal of nominations has been set as September 28, October 1, 3 and 5 for the four phases, respectively.
Kabra said that of the total 1145 municipal wards, 90 have been reserved for Scheduled Castes and 38 for Scheduled Tribes. To secure more women participation, 322 wards have been reserved for women belonging to open category.
Kabra also said that Kashmiri migrants would be allowed to vote through postal ballot.
Asking about the poll boycott by the National Conference and the PDP, Kabra said that the Housing and Urban Development Department had asked for conducting of the polls and his office would ensure that.
“The municipal polls don’t bar or debar anyone. The process allows anyone to contest. It is expected that people will come forward and provide the right atmosphere for conduct of free and fair elections,” he said.
Both NC and PDP have announced boycott of both municipal and panchayat polls citing the Indian government’s lack of commitment to defend Article 35A in the Supreme Court. The parties have also pointed out to the worsening security situation in the region for staying away from the ballot.
Replying to a query that Anantnag parliamentary by-polls could not be conducted in the last two years, Kabra said that all measures were being taken by police to ensure elections in a safe atmosphere.
“We are satisfied with security measures (for the elections),” he said.
The announcement for municipal polls has brought into force the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) in Jammu and Kashmir. Kabra said he expected political parties, state and central governments to follow the MCC.
“All provisions of MCC will apply to whole of the urban local bodies and will be applicable to all candidates, political parties, state and central governments,” he said.