Srinagar: Counting of votes cast in four phases of municipal elections will be taken up on Saturday. The civic polls in Kashmir region have been largely boycotted by people and voter turnout has gone above 5 percent in only a few polling stations.
As per official figures, the fate of nearly 2,990 candidates will be determined on Saturday. Most of these candidates are in Jammu and Ladakh regions, where high voting percentage was recorded. An election department official said that the voter turnout for the final phase of elections in Kashmir, for only two municipal bodies, was 4.2 percent.
In the first phase of polling on October 8, Kashmir region recorded 8.2 percent voter turnout. In the second phase on October 10, it came down to 3.4 percent. The third phase saw 3.5 percent.
Jammu and Kashmir has 79 municipal bodies with 1,145 wards. However, the counting will take place only for about 700 wards. The remaining wards either received no nomination or the candidates were elected unopposed because there was no rival candidate.
In Kashmir, 370 municipal wards didn’t require any polling as no candidate filed nominations or there was no opposition to a single contestant.
Kashmir has total 40 municipal bodies in which nearly 1,100 candidates filed nominations.
Of the 598 wards in Kashmir, 231 candidates were elected unopposed. Among these, 69, 61, 52, 49, were declared winners in phase I, II, IV, and III, respectively.
There were no candidates in 181 wards and out of these, 62 wards went for polling in phase III, 56 in phase II, 44 in phase IV, and 19 in phase I.
As per official figures, eight candidates (all of them from BJP) were elected unopposed in Sopore. Similarly, 17 wards of Shopian saw no voting as solitary candidates were elected unopposed.
In Baramulla, 40 independent candidates were elected unopposed. In 13 wards of Pulwama, three BJP candidates won unopposed while rest of the seats remained vacant as no nomination was filed. In Awantipora, only one candidate filed nomination and was elected unopposed. The remaining seats will remain vacant.
In Tral, four candidates contested without any opposition.
No voting was required in Pampore and Khrew also. In Khrew, no candidate filed nominations while five candidates in Pampore won unopposed.
In Frisal municipality (13 wards) in south Kashmir’s Kulgam, not a single candidate filed nomination papers.
In Jammu, only 13 candidates were declared winners uncontested among 2,100 candidates contesting for 534 wards.
The main contest was between BJP and Congress as Kashmir’s main regional parties, NC and PDP, boycotted the municipal polls following controversies around Article 35A.
They asked the Government of India to clarify its position on Article 35A of the Indian Constitution, which is facing a legal challenge in the Supreme Court.
Many independents and members of the Sajjad Lone-led Peoples Conference were also in the fray to stake claim on municipal seats.
The polls, which were held after 13 years, witnessed no campaigning due to threats by militant outfits and boycott call by pro-freedom groups.
This also prompted the election officials to keep the identity of candidates secret.
Two workers of National Conference were killed three days ahead of the first phase of polling. The incident forced many candidates to either withdraw their nominations or make public their dissociation with the poll process through social media.
Barring some minor incidents of stone-pelting, polling in all the four phases passed off peacefully.