For first time, polls to be held for 19 Municipal Councils, up from 6 last time

Women, SC, ST Reserve seats to be rotated

*DEOs, Deptts set to initiate exercise shortly

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, July 6: Number of the Wards in all 78 Urban Local Bodies is expected to be same as fresh areas haven’t been included in them but elections will be held for the first time on 19 Municipal Councils as compared to seven in 2018 while number of Corporations and Committees will remain unchanged as office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and the UT administration geared up to conduct largest electoral exercise of Municipal and Panchayat elections in October-November after completion of their five years term in the UT.
As exclusively reported by the Excelsior last month, a formal order for revision of electoral rolls, rotation of reserved seats and delimitation of Wards for Municipalities and Panchayats is expected to be issued anytime now.
Official sources told the Excelsior that last time election was held for six Municipal Councils–three each in Jammu and Kashmir divisions while this time polling will be held for 19 Councils–10 in the Valley and nine in Jammu.
Municipalities in 18 district headquarters of Jammu and Kashmir (except Jammu and Srinagar) have already been upgraded as Councils while Sopore also has a Council taking total numbers to 19.
However, number of Municipal Corporations stayed at two-one each in Jammu and Srinagar while number of Municipal Committees has come down from 70 to 57 because of elevation of 13 Committees as Councils.
J&K has 20 districts while Jammu and Srinagar districts have Corporations, rest all 18 district headquarters have one Council each besides Sopore.
As far as Panchayats are concerned, their number is expected to be almost same but the Rural Development Department will shortly come out with the details. As per the officials, the process for Panchayat polls will be initiated once the State Election Commission (SEC) is constituted or its powers are given to Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) PK Pole for conduct of the elections.
“Chances are that the Government might constitute the SEC shortly which became defunct after completion of term of KK Sharma in February this year,” the officials said.
They said the electoral rolls of Municipalities which were used in 2018 elections will be updated. The exercise will become easy as only in the month of May, the CEO office has completed Special Summary Revision of electoral rolls for Jammu and Kashmir and data will help in updating rolls for the Urban Local Bodies.
Same data can also be used for Panchayat polls but rolls for both the polls have to be revised to ensure that no voter who is eligible to cast vote is left out, the officials said.
“Task for rotation of reserved seats is also expected to be assigned to the District Election Officers (DEOs). Wards in both Municipalities and Panchayats are reserved for Women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes,” the officials said, adding that reservation of Wards for SCs and STs and SC Women and ST Women depend on population.
However, Women enjoy 33 percent reservation of Municipalities and Panchayats, they said.
Sources pointed out that term of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) will be complete on November 5 and that of Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) on November 14 while terms of rest all Municipal bodies including Councils and Committees in the UT will end between October-November.
Five-year term of the Panchayats will end on January 9, 2024.
Term of Urban Local Bodies is counted from the day of their first meeting while that of Panchayats is taken into account the day they were constituted.
“In such a scenario, elections to Urban Local Bodies are required to be completed before the end of October and that of Panchayats in middle of December this year,” sources said.
Term of the Block Development Councils (BDCs) will end in October 2024 while the District Development Councils (DDCs) will complete their tenure in January 2026.
“Generally elections to all three tiers of Panchayati Raj System are held simultaneously. However, since elections to DDCs were held for first time in Jammu and Kashmir, there was gap of two years in their and Panchayats term while there was an year’s difference in Panchayats and BDC term,” sources said.
They said the Jammu and Kashmir Government will take a decision after taking security situation and other arrangements in consideration on when to hold the elections. A call is expected only after completion of Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrimage on August 31.
Number of electorates in Jammu and Kashmir had gone up to 83.59 lakh when Special Summary Revision was carried out last year and final electoral rolls were published on November 25 last year. The numbers further went up to 8.5 million when the Special Summary Revision was undertaken by the Election Commission this year and final rolls were published on May 27 this year.