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Independents steel show in Kashmir, Congress follows next

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Urban Local Body Polls 2018

Srinagar, Oct 20: As the counting of votes in the civic polls was completed on Saturday, the Independent candidates emerged victorious in the majority number of 178 seats followed by the Congress with 157 and the BJP with 100 seats.

As per the results declared by election authorities here, Independent candidates won in 178 wards spread across 42 municipal bodies in Kashmir division including Leh and Kargil.

The Congress came second with its candidates getting elected from 157 wards while the BJP won in 100 wards.

The boycott call by separatists coupled with threats by militants and non-participation of the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, helped both the BJP and the Congress in a major way as 76 and 78 candidates from the respective national parties were elected unopposed.

While the BJP emerged the single-largest party in 12 municipal bodies, it has a majority in five of these bodies.

Congress is the single-largest party in 15 bodies having a majority in 11 of these bodies.

In the prestigious Srinagar Municipal Corporation, the Congress won 16 seats while the BJP won in four wards. Independents bagged 53 seats in the 74-member body.

The BJP, which had won the Ladakh constituency in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, got a drubbing from Congress in Leh and Kargil civic bodies. The saffron party failed to open its account in the two bodies while the Congress bagged all 13 seats in Leh and six seats in Kargil.

In the Valley, with Srinagar, Baramulla, Kupwara, Badgam, Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam, Bandipora and Ganderbal as its districts, of the 624 wards there was contest in 208 wards while 185 went vacant (without anyone contesting) and 208 wards had only one candidate in fray who won uncontested.

As per the final seat share as furnished by the Election officials, in Srinagar’s 74 wards, Independents have 53, Congress 16 and BJP 4 seats while in Budgam Congress leads the tally with 23 seats followed by independents with 16 seats and BJP with 5 seats. Pertinently, in Budgam, there was contest in only one seat.

Similarly in Ganderbal, Independents have 13 seats while the Congress and the BJP have two each. In Baramulla Independents and the BJP lead with 25 seats each while Congress has 17 seats. In Kupwara, Independents lead with 33 seats followed by BJP with 3 seats.

Congress did a good showing in Bandipora and has 27 seats followed by Independents with 10 and BJP 3. In Anantnag also, Congress has done very well to wrest 50 seats followed by BJP with 29 and Independents 11.

In Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam, BJP wrested 9, 12, and 8 seats respectively while Congress got 3 in Kulgam while Independents got 7 seats. Independents also got 3 seats in Pulwama.

Other highlights of these elections are that the Independents supported by former minister and Peoples Conference chief Sajad Gani Lone won all the 13 seats in the Handwara municipal committee polls in Kupwara.

Notable among the winners are National Conference rebel leader Junaid Azim Mattu, who won from Solina ward and Ashok Kaul of the BJP who won from the Karan Nagar ward. Kaul got 73 votes -- all from Kashmiri migrants.

Gulshan Bilal of Congress won from Syed Ali Akbar ward by bagging all eight votes that were cast in the polls in her ward.

Prominent among the losers was Asifa Tariq Karra, the wife of senior Congress leader Tariq Hameed Karra.

According to poll figures, Asifa Tariq Karra of Congress lost to Independent candidate Fancy Jan by a margin of 18 votes from Lawaypora ward. While Asifa Tariq Karra polled 501 votes, Fancy Jan got 519 votes.

Tariq Karra was a member of the 16th Lok Sabha from Srinagar. He resigned from the Lok Sabha in September 2016 and later joined the Congress in February 2017.

Due to security reasons the candidate names in the Valley were made public by the poll office only on the declaration of results.

Amid tight security, the 4-phased municipal polls were completed peacefully in the state on October 16.

In Kashmir Valley, the voter turnout was low, with 8.3 percent votes cast in the first phase on October 08, 3.4 percent in the second phase on October 10, 3.49 percent in the third phase on October 13 and 4.2 percent in the last phase on October 16. The overall percentage was 35.1 percent.

During voting, there were no signs of any electioneering in the run up to the polls as militant outfits had threatened to target those taking part in the elections, while separatist groups including the Hurriyat Conference boycotted the elections.

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