SRINAGAR In few days before first phase of the elections starts theres no campaigning, no door-to-door canvassing, no poll rally in the Kashmir Valley. The electioneering mode is not much different in Jammu division either.
Even the names of candidates who have filed nomination papers or their political affiliations are not being disclosed.
Officials have been citing security reasons for the secrecy over the conduct of what has come to be known as a ‘faceless’ poll process, especially in the troubled South Kashmir. They say disclosure of candidate details will make them vulnerable to threats, even endanger lives.
So far, 851 candidates have filed nomination papers for seats in 598 wards and 40 municipal bodies in the Kashmir Valley. Across J&K, 1145 seats are up for grabs in 79 municipal bodies and a total of 3005 candidates are in the fray.
Two major regional players National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – have boycotted the urban local body (ULB) and panchayat polls in the state.
Not a single candidate has filed nomination papers for 177 municipal wards out of a total 624 in the Kashmir Valley, while 215 wards will return their representatives unopposed.
“As many as 16,97,291 electors are eligible to exercise their franchise in 1,145 wards across the state of J&K in four phases from October 8,” a senior election department officer said.
Out of the total 1,145 wards of municipality and local bodies, 90 wards have been reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) and 38 for Scheduled Tribes (ST), which include 31 and 13 wards reserved for SC and ST women, respectively, he said.
In addition to this, 322 wards have been reserved for women belonging to open category, the officer said.
The Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has the highest number of 6,63,775 electors with 74 wards followed by the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) with 75 wards and 4,00,301 electors, he said.
The first phase of polling will be undertaken on October 8, followed by the second phase on October 10, third phase on October 13 and the fourth and final phase on October 16, the election officer said.
The counting of votes will be taken up on October 20.
The peaceful conduct of Municipal and Panchayat elections would be a major challenge for the Governor’s administration.
Authorities have promised personal security and secured lodgings to contestants in these polls.
A total of 400 additional companies of paramilitary forces were to be deployed to ensure peaceful conduct of these polls. Given the trend, the turnout in the elections is likely to be low, thus observe the political pandits.
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