October 2018 News

Jammu & Kashmir Local Polls: Maximum Seats For Independents

21 October 2018
The Economic Times
Hakeem Irfan

Srinagar: Independent candidates have emerged as the largest force in the elections to urban local bodies in Jammu Kashmir, winning more than 363 of the 1,144 wards across the state. In the Kashmir Valley, polls were held only in 208 of the 624 wards while 231 candidates won uncontested and 185 wards remained vacant. As the two main regional parties boycotted the polls, the Congress emerged as the largest party, winning 157 wards in Kashmir and Ladakh, and 110 in Jammu. The BJP won 100 wards in Kashmir, 76 of which went to the party uncontested, but it could not open any account in Ladakh region. In Jammu, which the BJP considers its bastion, the party won 212 out of the total 520 wards and got a decisive majority in Jammu Municipal Corporation. There was a marked difference in turnout in these polls, with just about 8% voters in the Valley exercising their franchise following threats by militants and boycott calls by the separatist Hurriyat leadership, while Jammu and Ladakh regions saw nearly 70% voting. Winning 178 wards in the Valley, independent candidates will be a decisive force in the formation of the corporation. The Peoples Conference, an ally of the BJP, which performed well in Handwara and Kupwara in northern Kashmir, claimed that many independent candidates were contesting elections on its behalf and staked claim for the post of the mayor in Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC). The Peoples Conference chief Sajjad Lone announced in a post on microblogging site Twitter that independent candidate Junaid Azim Mattu, who won from three wards in Srinagar, would be the partys candidate for the mayor of SMC. Mattu had left the National Conference and fought the election as an independent candidate after the party decided to boycott the local bodies and panchayat elections. JK governor Satyapal Malik had during the elections hinted that Mattu would be the mayor of SMC.