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The Jammu and Kashmir administration has decided to hold the local body elections (panchayat polls) in the union territory, reports news agency ANI.“Panchayat elections for vacant posts of every block will be held using ballot boxes. It will be conducted in eight phases,” said Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar.

This will be the first major political exercise since the Centre abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution in August last year, which took away the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir and turned it into a union territory. A separate union territory of Ladakh was also carved out.

Jammu and Kashmir is now governed by the Centre which has appointed GC Murmu as the Lieutenant Governor to look after the affairs of the union territory. The new status also means that law and order is now handled by the Centre. While union territory of Ladakh doesn’t have an assembly and will be directly governed by the Union Home Ministry through the Lieutenant Governor, Jammu and kashmir will have an assembly and will largely work along the lines of the Delhi model.The bold and far-reaching decision was one of the key promises of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the run up to May 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP came back to power with a thumping majority with the party alone winning 303 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, well past the 288 seats of 2014. The NDA ended up with 352 seats.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team took charge on May 30 and on August 5, in the first Parliament session of the new Lok Sabha, the all-important announcement on Jammu and Kashmir was made after mainline political leaders were detained, and state put under communication lockdown. The Kashmir valley still does not have internet connectivity but the aftermath of the move has been largely peaceful. (HT)