Srinagar: July 25:
The State Election Commissioner (SEC) of Jammu and Kashmir, Braj Raj Sharma, on Tuesday said that there is a possibility of holding Panchayat elections between the months of November and December.
The tenure of the current Panchayats, which were constituted in January 2019, is set to end by January next year, and the government intends to hold fresh elections for the same, Sharma said.
"It means that we have to conduct elections between the November-December months this year," Sharma stated while speaking to media persons in Jammu. He, further, emphasized that these Panchayat elections will be held on a non-party basis. In the coming days, consultations with representatives from various political parties will take place to finalize the process before the schedule is officially announced.
Sharma assured that preparations for the elections are well underway, with his predecessor having made significant progress on preparedness. The voter list has been revised to include updates up to 2023, and any omissions will be rectified through special summary revisions.
Speaking about the delay or amendment in holding Panchayat elections in J&K, Sharma explained that the term of any Panchayat election in the country is set at five years, as determined by the law of the land. As the term of the current Panchayats is set to conclude in January 2024, the elections need to be conducted before that time.
He also mentioned that after the abrogation of Article 370, the new voter list now includes West Pakistan refugees, Gorkhas, and other communities. Instructions have been issued to ensure that all individuals who will turn 18 years of age by January 2024 are included in the voter list, as they have acquired voting rights since August 2019 under the new laws.
When it comes to security concerns, Sharma expressed confidence in the improved security situation, and the administration has assured full arrangements for the elections. Efforts will be made to prevent any misuse of power or corruption during the elections, and a model code of conduct will be enforced for the Panchayats.
Sharma appealed to the public to realize the significance of their voting power and participate actively in the upcoming Panchayat elections to elect their representatives. He also confirmed that there will be reserved seats for women, as in previous elections, to encourage their participation in the democratic process.
“We are expecting massive participation in the panchayat elections and electing their own representatives,” he said, adding that there will be reserved seats for the women like previous elections.