Jammu & Kashmir: Local bodies’ elections

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In 1-contestant polls, BJP wins J&K civic body seats

Saleem Pandit, In 1-contestant polls, BJP wins J&K civic body seats, October 5, 2018: The Times of India

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

Saleem Pandit, November 7, 2018: The Times of India

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

October 18, 2018: The Times of India

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

Civic polls: BJP wins 212 of 520 seats in Jammu, big victory for Cong in Valley, October 21, 2018: The Times of India

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

Saleem Pandit, J&K civic elections: Jammu high, Kashmir low on votes, October 11, 2018: The Times of India

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.


District Development Council (DDC) elections

DDC polls see high voting in low-turnout areas

Bharti Jain, December 20, 2020: The Times of India

Voter turnout in the J&K DDC polls, 2020
From: Bharti Jain, December 20, 2020: The Times of India

The district development council (DDC) polls in J&K, which concluded, saw higher polling in traditional lowturnout areas such as Srinagar, Awantipora, Shopian and Anantnag, as compared to the parliamentary elections last year and even panchayat polls of 2018.

This, a senior J&K government functionary pointed out, was despite the polls being the first to be held after nullification of Article 370 in J&K and their timing in harsh winter. While Jammu region predictably saw brisk polling during all eight phases of DDC poll to clock an overall 68.4% turnout, Kashmir division too saw 34.4% turnout. The surprise package in Kashmir were conventionally low-polling areas such as Srinagar Awantipora and Anantnag.

Even terror-affected Pulwama and Shopian recorded a higher turnout than in 2019 Lok Sabha poll. “The significant increase in turnouts is significant for two reasons. Firstly, the DDC polls were the first electoral exercise to be held after the abrogation of Article 370 in J&K. Secondly, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) leaders had initially claimed that no one would participate in these polls. The higher percentages confirm Kashmiri people’s aspirations for a stronger grassroot democracy,” said a state functionary.

PAGD, BJP perform best

Saleem Pandit, December 23, 2020: The Times of India

The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a conglomeration of seven parties, took a significant lead in the first-ever District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir even as the alliance’s main opponent, the BJP, emerged as the single largest party, sweeping the polls in many districts in the Jammu region while making some inroads in the valley.

However, it is the independents — 44 of whom have already won — who will call the shots in many places, particularly in the valley. Nearly 20 more independents were leading in the counting, according to reports.

The DDC poll was the first electoral exercise since the nullification of Article 370 on August 5 last year. Voting was held in 280 seats — 14 in each of the 20 districts of the Union Territory.

NC best performer in Gupkar alliance

While PAGD surged ahead in the Kashmir region, BJP retained its upper hand in the Jammu region. The results of 247 of the 280 seats were available at the time of going to press, with PAGD winning in 97 seats and BJP in 70.

In the Farooq Abdullah-led PAGD, the former chief minister’s National Conference was the biggest winner with 57 seats, followed by his former arch-rival Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP, which won 26 seats. While Sajjad Lone’s People’s Conference won six seats, two other constituents of PAGD — CPM and Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement — won five and three seats, respectively. CPI and Awami National Conference, the other two partners in the seven-party alliance, drew a blank.

Congress, which had initially taken part in deliberations with PAGD but distanced itself following criticism, won 22 seats, while Altaf Bukhari’s nine-month-old Apni Party, considered close to BJP, bagged 10 seats.

BJP won most of its seats from the Jammu region and only three wins came from the valley.

In the Jammu region, BJP was in a clear position to take control of DDCs in Kathua, Samba, Reasi and Udhampur districts. In Jammu district, all the three seats went to the saffron party.

In the valley, PAGD was all set to helm DDCs in Anantnag, Budgam, Ganderbal, Pulwama and Kulgam.

NC leader Omar Abdullah downplayed BJP’s victory in three seats in the valley and tweeted: “I understand the temptation to over play the 3 seats the BJP has won in the valley but why underplay the 35 wins/leads of the@JKPAGD in Jammu province. We aren’t Kashmir based parties, we are political parties with strong support in both Kashmir AND Jammu.”

While PAGD had a decisive upper hand in the valley, it suffered a shock defeat in Srinagar, where only five of its candidates could win, with independents emerging victorious in seven seats and BJP and Apni Party winning one seat each. Though Apni Party won just one seat in Srinagar, the electoral arithmetic seems to be in its favour when it comes to taking control of the DDC as most victorious independents are backed by Bukhari. After winning the recently held mayoral elections, the mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation joined Apni Party.

Similarly, in Kupwara, Apni Party has won two seats so far. But sources said that six independents backed by Bukhari have won, giving his party the much-needed edge in forming the DDC.

Apni Party or the independents backed by it have won some seats in Baramulla, Ganderbal, Bandipora, Shopian and Anantnag as well.

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