Jammu & Kashmir: Local bodies’ elections
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In 1-contestant polls, BJP wins J&K civic body seats
177 Wards In Phase-I Didn’t Have Even Single Contender
Due to several attacks and threats by terror groups, candidates in nearly 46% of wards of Kashmir’s urban bodies going to polls in the first phase on October 8 have won uncontested. The majority of the winners belong to BJP.
Out of 624 municipal wards, 215 are uncontested and 177 wards did not find even a single candidate.
Elections will be held in 232 wards for which 715 candidates, an estimated three candidates per ward, are in fray.
Major regional parties, NC and PDP have boycotted the polls, claiming state’s special status under Article 35-A of the constitution was under threat due to the legal challenge to this provision in the Supreme Court. But Congress and BJP have fielded their candidates except in those wards where terror threats are severe.
The polls will be conducted in four phases from October 8 till October 16 while panchayat elections will be conducted in nine phases from November 17 to December 11 across the state. The municipal polls are being conducted in the state after a gap of 13 years with the last elections held in 2005. Last panchayat polls were held in 2011.
A senior police officer said even as the Centre was sending 400 additional companies of armed forces for the poll duties, it was not possible to provide security to each and every candidate because of the sheer number. “There is threat to at least 30 candidates,” he said.
Separatists have called for a shutdown in Kashmir on October 8 to protest against the municipal polls. They have also asked people to dissociate themselves from the polls scheduled on October 8, 10, 13 and 16. The maximum number of wards which remain uncontested are in south Kashmir. BJP candidates won Devsar and Qazigund municipal committees in south Kashmir uncontested. Similarly, in Qazigund municipal body in Kulgam district, BJP won three wards without contest while four wards are due for contest with Congress.
Not a single candidate has filed nomination papers for municipal committee Frisal in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. This is the lone urban body in the state where nobody has joined the fray, official sources said.
However, at least two BJP candidates and one from the Congress publicly announced their withdrawal from the polls.
Lone’s party wins Srinagar mayor election
Sajjad Lone-led People’s Conference (PC) nominee for Srinagar Municipal Corporation mayoral election Junaid Mattoo was on Tuesday declared mayor while Congressbacked Independent candidate Sheikh Imran was elected deputy mayor. Seventy elected SMC councillors participated in the polls.
Sajjad Lone’s PC bagged the mayor’s post for the first time with support from BJP and Independent councillors. Mattoo bagged 40 votes against 26 polled in favour of his Congress rival Ghulam Rasool Hajam. Four votes were found invalid.
No polling in 70% of wards in Valley
The just-concluded urban local body polls in Kashmir recorded a poor voter turnout but it will perhaps be remembered for nearly 70% of wards not witnessing any polling as there was no candidate or some of them winning unopposed.
According to data compiled by the election department of Jammu & Kashmir, out of 598 wards spanning across 40 municipal bodies in 10 districts of the valley, polling was held only in 186 wards. The remaining 412 wards — constituting 68.89 % of the total — did not require any voting. The government had made elaborate security arrangements to secure polling staff and polling stations but kept the identity of candidates who dared to defy militant threats a secret for security reasons.
As a result, there was no campaigning for these elections. Over 30% of wards in these 40 urban local bodies across Kashmir will remain unrepresented. The reasons for the low participation in these polls can be attributed to threats by militants against any participation.
Urban results. Jammu: BJP 212/ 520; Kashmir: Congress 157/ 624
The BJP tallied on top with 212 out of 520 urban local body seats across the Jammu region, comprising 10 districts. In Kashmir Valley, Congress emerged as the largest winning party with 157 out of 624 seats and the party fared relatively well in Ladakh division too.
As per the results declared on Saturday, in Jammu region, independents won 185 seats, the second-highest, followed by Congress (110) and J&K National Panthers Party (13). Mainstream political parties National Conference and PDP had boycotted elections to protest against what they called were attempts by the central government to repeal Article 35-A of Constitution, which grants special status to J&K.
BJP claimed 92 out of 154 ULB seats in Jammu district, 23 out of 63 in Rajouri, 13 out of 26 in Reasi and 34 out of 80 in Kathua. In other districts, the party didn’t fare so well. In some parts of Jammu, especially in its bastion old city, the saffron party got some shock from independents mainly because of dissidence within the party over denial of tickets. Congress got 28 in Jammu district.
BJP won a majority 43 seats in the 75-ward Jammu Municipal Corporation. Independents and Congress here bagged 18 and 14 wards, respectively.
Voter turnout high in Jammu, Ladakh; low in Kashmir
Even as Jammu division recorded 76% votes, Kashmir’s abysmally low participation brought the overall poll percentage down to just 30% in the second phase of the municipal elections in J&K on Wednesday.
Only over 3% voters polled in the Valley. The municipal polls were held in 263 wards (214 in Jammu and 49 in Kashmir), Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) J&K, Shaleen Kabra said. Out of 23 urban local bodies which went to polls on Wednesday, five are in Kashmir and 18 in Jammu.The CEO said the cumulative polling percentage in the two phases is 46.7% with 67.3% votes in Jammu division and 8.34% in Kashmir division. In Kashmir, Bandipora recorded the highest with 36% votes. Reports said Anantnag and Srinagar recorded the lowest turnout at 1.1% and 2.3% respectively.