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J&K all set for first phase of maiden DDC polls

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Panchayat bypolls: 804 sarpanchs, panchs elected unopposed

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir is all set to witness its first elections since being reorganised as a union territory last year with the maiden District Development Council (DDC) polls beginning on Saturday, officials said.

They said by-elections to 12,153 Panchayat constituencies are also taking place along with the DDC polls. Out of these, 11,814 are in the Kashmir Valley and the remaining 339 in Jammu.

Campaigning for the first phase came to an end on Thursday and officials said elaborate arrangements have been put in place for the smooth conduct of the polls and special measures taken in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As many as 1,475 candidates are in the fray for the first phase of these polls, they said.

The eight-phase elections are seen as a triangular contest among the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), the BJP and the Apni Party floated by former finance minister Altaf Bukhari.

The PAGD — an amalgam of several mainstream political parties, including NC, PDP, PC and CPI(M) seeking the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status which was revoked by the Centre last year — has been accusing the Bukhari-led party of being a B-Team of the BJP.

There are 280 DDC seats in the union territory – 140 each in Jammu and Kashmir regions, the officials said, adding 14 constituencies have been earmarked in each of the 20 districts of the union territory.

Out of 1,475 candidates, 296 are contesting the first phase of the DDC polls, they said, adding 172 of them are from the Kashmir Valley and 124 from the Jammu region.

In the first phase of the DDC elections, 43 constituencies will go to polls — 25 in Kashmir and 18 in Jammu, the officials said.

For the by-elections to Panchayats, 899 candidates were in the fray for the Panch seats and 280 for the Sarpanch seats, they added.

A total number of 2,644 polling stations have been set up and there are be 703620 electors for this phase, the officials said.

Voting for the first phase will take place from 7 am to 2 pm, they said.

Meanwhile, as many as 804 sarpanchs and panchs have been elected unopposed ahead of the panchayat bypolls in Jammu and Kashmir, an official said Friday.

“As many as 768 panchs and 36 sarpanchs have been elected unopposed,” state election commissioner K K Sharma told reporters.

As per official data, 11,500 seats for the post of panchs and 890 for sarpanch are vacant in Kashmir, and 185 seats for panch and 124 for sarpanch in Jammu division.

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