Panchayat and municipal elections will be held simultaneously in Arunachal Pradesh on December 22 after a delay of over two years, election officials said on Thursday.

The elections got delayed due to the amendment of existing acts and rules for the conversion of the three-tier panchayat system in the state to a two-tier one and municipal councils to municipal corporations, State Election Commissioner (SEC) Hage Kojeen told reporters.

Everything was finalised for conducting the elections in April-May this year, but the COVID-19 outbreak further delayed it, he said.

“The public notice for the elections will be issued by returning officers on November 24 and the last date for filing nomination papers is on December 2.

“The scrutiny of the documents will take place on December 4 and the last date for withdrawal of the nominations is December 7. The votes will be counted on December 26 and the entire process will be completed by December 31,” the official said.

Separate COVID-19 guidelines have been issued for election officials, candidates and political parties, he said.

“The commission will deploy 27 observers to oversee the election process in 25 districts, including the Itanagar Municipal Corporation and the Pasighat Municipality.

“Over 40,000 security personnel and election officials will be deployed for conducting free and fair elections,” Kojeen said.

EVMs will be used for elections to the civic bodies, while ballot boxes will be used in the panchayat elections as this will be the first poll after conversion of the three-tier panchayat system in the state to a two-tier one, he said.

There will no longer be any post of anchal samiti member after the panchayat system conversion, the official said.

Arunachal Pradesh has 25 zilla parishads with 241 constituencies, and 2,215 gram panchayats with 8,436 seats.

The two civic bodies in the state — Itanagar Municipal Corporation and Pasighat Municipality — have 20 and eight wards respectively, he said.

A total of 7,39,284 voters will be eligible to exercise their franchise in 2,175 polling booths for both the elections, the official added. PTI