October 2018 News

ULB Polls: 4.5% Turnout In Final Phase Stamps Boycott

16 October 2018
Kashmir Observer


Srinagar: The elections to Urban Local Bodies, held after 2005, ended on Tuesday with most voters staying away in the final round of the 4-phased polls on Tuesday. The voter turnout remained abysmally low in Kashmir Valley in all the phases, recording a dismal 4.5 per cent in all the phases while as over all turnout in the state including Jammu and Kargil remained average 35.1 perecent. In the final phase, the turnout was 4.2 percent , Ganderbal witnessed 11.3% polling in 12 Wards were 38 candidates are in the fray while Srinagar witnessed 4% polling and 25 Wards went to polls. Eight municipal bodies spanning across six districts - all in Kashmir valley - were scheduled to go for polls in the final phase. However, out of the eight, only two see the voting. There is no contest in the rest of the six bodies. The Ganderbal Municipal Committee has 12 wards out of the 17 in total. 25 wards in the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) are voting in the summer capital of the state. Only these 37 wards see poling in which 156 candidates are in the fray - 38 in Ganderbal and 118 in Srinagar including 5 candidates of the one ward going for re-poll . Five candidates from Ganderbal and one from Srinagar have been elected unopposed. The rest of the bodies - Pattan in Baramulla district of north Kashmir, Pampore, Pulwama and Khrew in Pulwama district, Shopian Municipal Committee in Shopian district and Dooru Verinag in Anantnag district, all in south Kashmir, will see no voting. Together these six bodies have 90 wards. While candidates from 11 wards out of the total 13 in the Pattan municipal body have been elected unopposed, two wards received no nomination papers. Not a single nomination paper was submitted in any of the 13 wards of the Khrew municipal body. In the Pampore municipal body, which has 17 wards, five candidates were elected unopposed, while 12 wards received no nomination papers. Out of the 13 wards in Pulwama municipal body, no candidate was in the fray in 11 wards while two candidates were elected unopposed. In the 17 wards of Shopian, 12 were elected without contest, while five wards received no nominations. While one ward received no nomination in the municipal body of Dooru Verinag, 16 candidates were elected uncontested. while in the first three phases of the polls, majority of people stayed away from polling booths in Kashmir Valley with 8.3 per cent recorded in first phase, 3.4% in phase-II and 3.5 percent in penultimate phase. Polling in all four-phases of the election to urban local bodies, which was among others boycotted by two main regional parties - the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), remained by and large peaceful. 'The overall voting percentage for the urban Local bodies of the state was 35.1 per cent,' said an election department official, adding the turnout for the final phase, held only for two municipal bodies in valley was 4.2 percent. A total of 35.1 percent people, numbering around 5.97 lakh out of nearly 17 lakh voters exercised their franchise during the entire four-phase electoral process, held amid tight security with even candidates' identities having been kept secret. The overall voting percentage in Srinagar was less than five percent. The counting of votes will be held on October 20. The valley witnessed no signs of electioneering in run up to the polls even as the election authorities kept secret even the identities of the contesting candidates owing to the security threat to them, prompting political parties, which were against the conduct of polls in the present circumstances, to question the authenticity of the process. Of the 598 wards in Kashmir, 231 candidates were elected unopposed while there were no candidates on 181 wards. Barring some minor incidents of stone pelting, the polling in all the four phases of polling passed off peacefully. The Chief Electoral Officer, J&K, Shaleen Kabra on Tuesday reviewed arrangements put in place for the counting of votes on Saturday in all the districts of the State. The counting will start at 9.00 am. In a video-conference with the Deputy Commissioners, Kabra while taking comprehensive review of the counting arrangements made in each district, lauded their efforts in ensuring smooth, free and fair conduct of urban Local body polls across the state. He complimented the DCs for having made adequate arrangements which resulted in smooth and hassle-free conduct of elections. Kabra issued necessary guidelines to the DCs regarding counting of votes besides ensuring presence of contestants or their authorized agents inside the counting hall. Kabra directed DCs to personally monitor the counting and tabulation to avid any confusion. He said the staff has already been fully trained in counting of votes on EVMs. The Chief Electoral Officer stressed the DCs to gear up for upcoming Panchayat elections. Normal life was affected in poll-bound areas of Kashmir Valley Tuesday due to a strike called by Joint Resistance Leadership against the conduct of urban Local body polls in the state. Shops, fuel stations and other business establishments were shut in poll-bound areas of Ganderbal and Srinagar the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said. They said public transport was off the roads in these areas even as few private cars, cabs and auto-rickshaws were seen plying. The government has also declared a holiday in poll-bound areas. The officials said life was normal elsewhere in the valley. The separatists - Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) had asked people living in the areas where voting was underway Tuesday to observe strike. Meanwhile, authorities have reduced mobile Internet speeds across the valley as a precautionary measure.

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