Jammu and Kashmir: Voting for the first phase of District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir has begun amid tight security on Saturday. In the first phase of the DDC elections, 43 constituencies will go to polls — 25 in Kashmir and 18 in Jammu. Notably, the Valley is witnessing its first elections since the Centre scrapped Article 370 and bifurcated it into two UTs. Speaking to reporters, 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. The polling will end at 2 PM. Also Read – DDC Election in Jammu And Kashmir: Polling Begins Amid Tight Security, 296 Candidates in Fray For 43 Constituencies
By-polls for 234 vacant seats of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) are also being held simultaneously.
“As many as 7 lakh voters shall use their right to vote in phase I of polling on Saturday. Out of 7 lakh voters, more than 3.72 lakh are from the Kashmir division and 3.28 lakh are from the Jammu division,” State Election Commissioner K K Sharma had said earlier.
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.
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mainstream political parties, including NC and PDP, seeking the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status which was revoked by the Centre last year — has been accusing the Bukhari-led party of being a B-Team of the BJP.
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 rest 339 in Jammu.