Jammu, Oct 10 (PTI) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar on Saturday said the upcoming panchayat and municipal by-elections would be conducted in a free, fair and COVID-safe manner as representatives of various political parties sought deferment of the exercise due to the pandemic, an official spokesman said.
The Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Department on Wednesday announced by-elections to 12,168 panch and 1,089 sarpanch constituencies, which are lying vacant for the past about two years. The election authority is likely to announce the dates shortly.
'The panchayat be-election and urban local bodies by-elections 2020 will be conducted in a free, fair, transparent, ethical, participative and COVID safe manner,” Kumar said chairing a meeting with representatives of various political parties here.
Representative of Congress Rama Kant Khajuria, chairman of J-K National Panthers Party Harsh Dev Singh, representative of PDP Narender Singh Raina were prominent among those who attended the meeting, an official spokesman said.
He said several issues were raised by the representatives, including the deferment of the election due to COVID-19 , provision of adequate security as per actual threat perception and need without any party affiliation, and an amicable atmosphere for the conduct of elections.
In response, the CEO stressed that the said by-elections cannot be indefinitely deferred.
He assured that all COVID-19 related arrangements would be ensured at polling stations including the provision of face masks, sanitisers, thermal scanners and proper social distancing will be ensured during the entire election process.
Kumar said all the preparations have been finalised including providing all logistics and procurement of election material.
The panchayat by-elections will be conducted through ballot boxes on non-party basis, whereas municipal elections will be conducted on party basis through M2EVMs and a detailed schedule in this regard is being issued shortly, he said.
Kumar said the continuous updation of panchayat electoral rolls with regard to January 1, 2020, is under process with the aim that no eligible voter should be left behind unregistered. Regarding the updation of municipal electoral rolls, a special summary revision is being conducted with the qualifying date as January 1, 2020, he added. PTI TAS AQS AQS