Explainers & Backgrounders

Jammu & Kashmir Panchayat Elections 2018: Empowering Grassroots Democracy

Jammu & Kashmir Panchayat Elections 2018 Empowering Grassroots Democracy
Jammu & Kashmir Panchayat Elections 2018: Empowering Grassroots Democracy

The Panchayat elections in Jammu & Kashmir held in 2018 were significant milestones in the region’s political landscape. The democratic process of electing local representatives was viewed as crucial for empowering grassroots democracy and fostering development at the grassroots level. This article explores the key points surrounding the Jammu & Kashmir Panchayat Elections 2018, examining the importance, challenges, and outcomes of the electoral process.


Jammu & Kashmir, a region known for its complex political history and security challenges, had witnessed a prolonged period of violence and unrest. The Panchayat system in the state had remained inactive for nearly seven years before the 2018 elections. The government’s decision to conduct these elections aimed to rejuvenate local governance and encourage people’s participation in decision-making processes.

Importance of Jammu & Kashmir Panchayat Elections 2018

The Panchayat elections in Jammu & Kashmir held significant importance for various reasons:

  • Grassroots Empowerment: Panchayat elections are vital in empowering local communities and enabling them to have a say in their own development. By electing representatives at the village, block, and district levels, people were granted the authority to address their concerns and shape policies that directly affect them.
  • Strengthening Democracy: Conducting regular elections fosters democratic values and practices. The electoral process promotes political awareness, inclusivity, and accountability, thereby bolstering the foundations of a robust democratic system.
  • Developmental Initiatives: Elected Panchayat representatives play a pivotal role in identifying and prioritizing local developmental needs. These representatives act as intermediaries between the government and the people, facilitating the implementation of various welfare schemes and initiatives.

Election Process

The Jammu & Kashmir Panchayat Elections 2018 took place in multiple phases across various districts of the region. The panchayat elections were held on November 17, 20, 24, 27, 29, December 1, 4, 8 and 11. The process involved:

  • Electoral Constituencies: The state was divided into Panchayat halqas, Panchayat blocks, and Panchayat samitis, each representing different administrative units for effective governance.
  • Nomination and Campaigning: Aspiring candidates filed their nominations, and campaigning was carried out to garner support from the local populace.
  • Voting and Results: The elections were held in a free and fair manner, allowing people to cast their votes and choose their representatives. The results were declared after the conclusion of each phase.

Security Challenges

The elections were conducted amidst significant security challenges due to the region’s history of insurgency and unrest. Various militant groups issued threats to dissuade people from participating in the electoral process. Despite these obstacles, security forces and election officials worked diligently to ensure the safety of voters and candidates during the elections.

People’s Participation

One of the remarkable aspects of the 2018 panchayat elections was the high level of people’s participation. Despite security concerns, a considerable number of people turned out to vote, displaying their determination to exercise their democratic rights. The participation of women in the electoral process was particularly noteworthy, signifying a positive step towards gender inclusion in governance.

During the initial phase of the nine-phased panchayat polls held on November 17, a noteworthy 74.1 per cent of the electorate cast their votes across the state. The Kashmir division witnessed 64.5 per cent voter turnout during this phase, while the Jammu division recorded an impressive 79.4 per cent turnout.

Moving on to the second phase on November 20, the overall voter turnout was 71.1 per cent across the state. Notably, the Jammu division saw an overwhelming 80.4 per cent polling during this phase, while the Kashmir division recorded a comparatively lower turnout of 52.2 per cent.

The voter turnout in both divisions during the Panchayat elections reflects the people’s enthusiasm and commitment to participating in the democratic process. The active engagement of citizens in the electoral process is a positive sign for the growth and consolidation of democracy in the region. It also highlights the significance of local governance and the desire of the electorate to choose representatives who can address their concerns and contribute to the development of their communities.

Role of Women in Elections

The 2018 Panchayat elections witnessed an encouraging increase in the number of women candidates. Reserved seats for women in the Panchayat system provided opportunities for them to actively participate in decision-making and contribute to their community’s progress.

Challenges Faced

The Panchayat elections also encountered some challenges:

  • Security Concerns: The prevalent security situation in the region posed a significant challenge, with incidents of violence and attempts to disrupt the elections.
  • Low Voter Turnout in Certain Areas: In some areas, the fear of reprisals led to a low voter turnout, affecting the overall representation and legitimacy of the elected bodies.
  • Political Polarization: The elections highlighted existing political divisions within the region, making it essential for elected representatives to bridge the gaps and work together for inclusive development.

Outcomes and Impact

The Jammu & Kashmir Panchayat Elections 2018 had several positive outcomes and impacts:

  • Grassroots Governance: The elected Panchayats served as vital platforms for local governance, addressing issues at the grassroots level and advocating for community welfare.
  • Women’s Empowerment: The increased participation of women in the electoral process empowered them to play an active role in decision-making and community development.
  • Development Initiatives: With elected representatives in place, the implementation of developmental initiatives and welfare schemes gained momentum.
  • People’s Trust in Democracy: The successful conduct of elections despite security challenges instilled confidence in the democratic process among the people.

In the Kashmir division, the voter turnout was led by the northern Baramulla district, with an impressive 62.4 per cent of the electorate exercising their right to vote. It was closely followed by the nearby Kupwara district, where 56.1 per cent of the voters participated in the electoral process. Budgam recorded a respectable 46.3 per cent turnout, while Bandipora saw 24.4 per cent of its electorate casting their votes. Kulgam and Anantnag districts had comparatively lower turnouts, with 14.5 per cent and 6.2 per cent, respectively.

On the other hand, the Jammu division witnessed robust voter participation, with Doda district recording the highest voter turnout at an impressive 84.6 per cent. Poonch and Kishtwar districts closely followed with 82.5 per cent and 82.3 per cent voter turnouts, respectively. Rajouri and Ramban districts saw significant voter engagement with 81.8 per cent and 81.1 per cent turnout, respectively. Kathua and Udhampur districts also registered substantial voter participation at 80.7 per cent and 78.9 per cent, respectively.

The Jammu & Kashmir Panchayat Elections 2018 marked a significant step towards strengthening grassroots democracy in the region. Despite challenges, the elections showcased the determination of the people to actively participate in the democratic process and shape their communities’ future. With elected representatives at the helm, it is essential for the government to support and empower Panchayats to fulfill their roles effectively and foster inclusive development in Jammu & Kashmir.


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Jammu & Kashmir Panchayat Elections 2018: Empowering Grassroots Democracy