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Elections for 13,000 panchayat seats in J&K soon; Dates may be out by Nov 3

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Srinagar, Nov 02: Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha on Monday said that the dates for panchayat and municipal elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be announced on November 3 or 4. This would be the first electoral exercise after August 5, 2019, when the special status of J&K under Article 370 of the Constitution was abrogated and the state was split into two UTs.

 Elections for 13,000 panchayat seats in J&K soon; Dates may be out by Nov 3

The election process will be held to fill over 13,000 vacant panchayat seats and it will be seen as an attempt to restart the political process in the region once again. As per official data, there are around 11,500 panchs and 890 sarpanch seats are vacant in Kashmir, while 185 panch and 124 sarpanch seats are vacant in Jammu division.

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It was earlier scheduled to be held in eight phases from March 5 but was delayed due to security reasons. Later, the coronavirus pandemic led to the further suspension of all such activities.

With some improvement in the situation, the new LG Manoj Sinha is understood to have directed the authorities to accomplish the process of the three-tier with by-elections on 13,257 vacancies.

Speaking to News18, Sinha said the upcoming local body and panchayat polls were part of the government's efforts to bolster the three-tier panchayat system of governance in the country.

"We have strengthened the three-tier system. It was decided in the 73rd amendment, when it was enacted in Parliament in 1992, that there will be a three-tier system of panchayats in the country. Now on November 3 or 4, elections are to be announced (in this regard)," Sinha said.

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The Panchayat election was held in November-December, 2018, and 22,214 panches and 3,459 sarpanches were elected in out of 33,592 panch and 4,290 sarpanch constituencies.

Further vacancies have accrued on various accounts such as deaths and resignations. Also as a result of polls to block development committee (BDCs) chairpersons in October, 2019, another 307 seats of panch and sarpanch fell vacant.

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