Press Trust of india

69% of 598 wards in Kashmir Valley witnessed no polling

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Srinagar, Oct 17:  The just-concluded urban local body polls in Kashmir recorded a poor voter turnout but it will perhaps be remembered for nearly 70 percent of wards not witnessing any polling as there was no candidate at all or some of them winning unopposed.

According to data compiled by the Election department of Jammu and 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 percent 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 and in most cases the candidates chose to remain anonymous.

Over thirty percent of wards in these 40 urban local bodies across Kashmir Valley will remain unrepresented.

No nomination papers were received from 181 wards (30.26 percent) for the elections. Most of these wards were in the third phase of the polls - 62, followed by 56 in the second phase, 44 in the last and 19 in the first phase.

Out of the 598 wards, 231 wards - 38.62 percent - were those which saw no contest and the solitary candidate in each of these wards was declared winner unopposed.

While 69 of these wards were in the first phase, 61 were in the second, 49 in the third and 52 in the fourth and last phase.

In these polls, six municipal bodies had two or less contesting candidates in total - two of them zero.

For Pulwama municipal body, which has 13 wards, there were only two contesting candidates who won unopposed. Awantipora, Beerwah and Seer Hamdan municipal bodies - all having 13 wards each - had only one contesting candidate each in the whole civic body.

Frisal in Kulgam district and Khrew in Pulwama district - both in south Kashmir - received no nomination papers from any of the 13 wards each body has.

In total, out of the 40 civic bodies in the Valley, voting did not take place in 27 of them.

The poll percentage in the rest of the 13 municipal bodies was recorded at 8.3 percent in the first phase, 3.4 percent in the second, 3.5 percent in the third and 4.2 percent in the fourth and last phase.

The reasons for the low participation in these polls - candidate-wise as well as voting percentage-wise - can be attributed to calls for boycott by the separatists, and threats by militants against any participation in these polls.  Two major regional parties – National Conference (NC) and Peoples democratic Party (PDP) as also the CPI(M) boycotting these elections also impacted the turnout. The NC, PDP and the CPI(M) stayed away from the polls because of the legal challenge to Article 35-A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.

Stringent security arrangements were made for the smooth conduct of the polls, while candidates at many places were taken to secure locations - which meant no visible campaign for the polls in the Valley.

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