BUDGAM: No polling was held in Sanor Kalipora (SK Pora) panchayat block in Budgam district due to absence of candidates but 23 kilometres away in Khag block, hundreds of voters turned up to cast their vote in panchayat polls held on Thursday.
Located in upper region of the district, polling centres at most places in Khag were filled with voters, and the polling centres had turned into festive spots.
By 12 noon, polling station Lachmanpora – located in a government school – had seen the highest turnout of 91.84%. Similarly, at the polling stations established in village Habber and Sutaharan-B, the turnout was 59.22% and 51.14%, respectively.
At the polling station in Khag, people didn’t hesitate to come out to vote. Their problem, however, was how to remove the ink applied on their finger by polling staff after they had cast their vote.
Some villagers here said that they were voting for better living conditions in their villages. Most of them said they were voting to bring their own men in power.
Polling booths in wards Habber, Khag, Sutaharan, Lachmanpora and other places had become like a picnic spot during the day, with children playing around and some villagers taking pictures of the station.
Women and men both flocked to the polling stations. Giggling on being asked who she had voted for, Shaheens, 45, said she gave one vote to each of the candidates.
“We voted for nothing,” she said on a more serious note. “We have no expectations” from the candidates, she said. “They tricked us in the past and will continue to trick us in the future.”
“The last elected Sarpanch did nothing for us, so we don’t expect anything extra from this one. However, family bonds and compulsions of being a neighbour forced us to vote,” she said.
An elderly hunchbacked man, whom people called Salam Kak, was brought in a car to cast his vote.
Kak, 81, said he is a staunch National Conference supporter and believes that one who does not vote is “committing a sin”.
“I have never missed an opportunity to cast my vote,” he said. “I can miss a day’s work but not this.”
He, however, lambasted the former Sarpanch and said he did nothing for him. “The new Sarpanch (candidate) is my relative and he will help me solve domestic rivalries and family issues,” Kak said.
Out of a total 6,906 registered voters (3656 males and 3250 females) in Khag panchayat block, a total of 2402 votes were polled – which is 34.78 percent.
Elections were scheduled to be held today in SK Pora and Khag blocks in the fifth phase. SK Pora block is divided into 9 panchayat halqas, in which four candidates filed nomination for Sarpanch and were elected unopposed. The rest five seats lie vacant.
SK Pora block is subdivided into 81 Panch wards, out of which 78 wards boycotted the election completely. Three independent candidates won uncontested.
Khag block has a total number of 26 panchayat halqas. Twelve candidates for Sarpanch won unopposed and 8 seats were left vacant. Only for six Sarapanch seats were elections held.
The block is subdivided into 222 Panch constituencies, out of which elections were held only in 18 wards. Sixty candidates won here uncontested, while the majority of 144 seats lie vacant.
Most of the panchayat blocks in Budgam district, especially Soibug, Rathsoon, Budgam, Beerwah and Wetrehal, have seen no voting or interest in the ongoing panchayat elections.