SRINAGAR: The Municipal elections in Kashmir and Jammu divisions are anticipated to be held in multiple phases, with four phases in Kashmir and three phases in Jammu, Daily Excelsior reported.
An official announcement regarding the polls is expected before the end of this month.
According to official sources of Daily Excelsior, the Election Authority is currently addressing a substantial number of objections received for the draft reservation of Wards. Finalising this list is one of the last significant formalities required before announcing the elections.
Officials noted that the government might seek additional paramilitary forces to assist with the election process, as the existing troops are engaged in anti-militancy operations across the Union Territory.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) PK Pole, responsible for conducting elections for the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), has been actively reviewing preparations for elections in the Union Territory, covering a total of 77 Urban Local Bodies, including 40 in Kashmir and 37 in Jammu. This includes two Corporations (Jammu and Srinagar) and 19 Councils, with the remainder being Municipal Committees.
The Election Department is currently finalising the election schedule, and there is a possibility that Municipal polls may be announced before the end of the month. The elections are expected to be conducted in four phases in Kashmir and three phases in Jammu, with a gap of three to four days between each phase to allow for the rotation of paramilitary forces and police personnel deployed for election duty.
The Election Authority has received numerous objections to the draft reservation list of Wards in Corporations, Councils, and Committees. These objections are expected to be addressed next week, clearing the way for the election announcement. The draft reservation list was compiled following extensive procedures and adherence to all regulations.
Given that the Municipal elections will be followed by Panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is likely to approve the government’s request for additional paramilitary forces to ensure the smooth conduct of elections.
If all goes as planned, the Municipal elections are expected to conclude in early November. Revised electoral rolls for the Municipal polls have already been published, and other necessary formalities for the electoral process are either completed or will be finished in the coming days.
The Municipal elections are likely to be held on a party-basis, and there are sufficient Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) available for the exercise.
The five-year term of the ULBs will end in the first week of December this year, and the Municipalities will be in place before that.
Regarding Panchayat polls, the revised voter lists and draft reservation of Sarpanch and Panch constituencies are yet to be issued. Once these steps are completed, preparations for Panchayat polls can begin. Sources suggest that Panchayat polls may follow the Municipal elections.
In 2018, Municipal polls were conducted in October, followed by Panchayat elections, marking significant democratic milestones in the region.
The term of the Block Development Councils (BDCs) is set to conclude in October 2024, while the District Development Councils (DDCs) will complete their tenure in January 2026.
Sources of Daily Excelsior indicate that the timing of these elections will be decided by the Jammu and Kashmir Government, taking into consideration the security situation and other logistical arrangements. A decision is expected to be made shortly.
The number of electorates in Jammu and Kashmir has increased, reaching 8.5 million in the latest Special Summary Revision conducted by the Election Commission this year. This includes ULB voters, and a similar increase is anticipated for Panchayat electorates after the revision process.