8-phase DDC elections from November 28

State Election Commissioner K.K Sharma on Wednesday announced the maiden elections to elect District Development Councils (DDCs) in 20 districts of the J&K Union Territory stating that polls will be held in eight phases from November 28.

He also said that Panchayat by-elections for the vacant seats of Sarpanchs and Panchs will also be held simultaneously with the DDC Polls.

Addressing a press conference here, State Election Commissioner Sharma said that first ever elections for the DDCs will be held from November 28, 2020 in 8 phases which will conclude on December 19 and the counting of votes will be held on December 22. He also informed that the results of Panchayat by-elections will be declared on the polling day. The polling hours will be from 7 am to 2 pm.

K.K Sharma further informed that the DDC elections will be held on party basis whereas Panchayat by-elections will be held on non-political basis. He said that polling for   DDC and Panchayat elections will be held through Ballot Boxes, while as postal ballots will be available for Covid-19 patients in isolation, senior citizens and physically unwell patients. He also 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 has come in force from today onwards. The first formal notification for the first phase of elections will be issued tomorrow,” Sharma said. He said delimitation has been done and 280 constituencies for DDCs have been identified across the J&K UT. “The term of the DDC will be for five years,” Sharma said.

Responding to media queries, State Election Commissioner said that West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs), who are Indian citizens and are eligible to vote in Parliamentary elections, will also be entitled to exercise their right to vote for the first time. The State Election Commission said that after taking the feedback from various security agencies, a proper security mechanism will remain in place and “all concerns have been taken into consideration.”

He also informed that the expenditure limit for the DDC polls per candidate is Rs 5 lakh, one lakh for Sarpanch seat and Rs 30,000 for Panch seat.

To ensure free, fair and transparent elections, general observers will be deployed who will keep a close watch on every stage of the electoral process. Sharma also informed that sufficient numbers of ballot boxes have been made available for the smooth conduct of elections.

Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar said that by-polls for 234 vacant seats of ULBs will also be held simultaneously. He said that elections to ULBs will be held through EVM.