SRINAGAR An overwhelming majority of voters stayed indoors in the Kashmir Valley on Wednesday as preponing election commencement to 6.AM failed to bring voters to cast ballot in second of the 4-phased elections to Urban Local Bodies being held after a gap of 13 years.
According to officials, there was a low voter turnout yet again in Kashmir with 3.4 per cent of 2.20 lakh electorate casting their votes.
The second phase witnessed overall voter turnout of 31.3 percent out of total electorate of 3.47 lakh in the state, they said.
The election commission officials said the overall turnout in two phases was 47.2 percent in the state with the Jammu region registering 67.7 per cent and Kashmir 8.3 per cent.
The low voter turnout in Kashmir was in line with a meagre 8.3 per cent turnout in the valley during the first phase of polling, when the Jammu and Ladakh divisions had witnessed over 65 per cent of voting, they said.
Bandipora district, however, witnessed brisk polling as 34.2 per cent of the 8,300 voters exercised their franchise, the officials said.
They said Sopore in north Kashmir and Anantnag in south Kashmir registered turnouts of 6.1 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively.
Voters in Jammu region, however, voted enthusiastically in the second phase too, braving chilly weather conditions in the hills of Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Udhampur and Reasi districts, whose upper reaches experienced the season’s first snowfall overnight. The voting covering six districts of Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Reasi, Udhampur and Kathua recorded an average turnout of 76 per cent, the poll officials said.
They said the highest turnout of 84.6 per cent was recorded in Reasi district followed by Kathua (80 per cent), Ramban (79.53), Udhampur (79.21 per cent), Kishtwar (74.75 per cent) and Doda (72.77 per cent).
The enthusiastic voters thronged the polling booths soon after the polling began at 6 am and waited in long queues for their turn as the polling completed in a peaceful manner amid tight security arrangements.
The day-long polling in the Jammu region, however, was marred by the death of BJP candidate Azad Singh Raju (62) at a polling station.
Raju, a former employee of the Irrigation and Flood Control department died of heart attack at a polling booth in Ramban district shortly after the voting began, the officials said.
The 2nd phase of polling has sealed the fate of 881 candidates, while four candidates have been elected unopposed in this phase in Jammu region.
Kashmir witnessed low voter turnout despite election authorities having advanced the starting time of voting for the second phase by an hour to 6 am, half an hour before the day break.
The advancement of the time for start of the voting has led to fears among some political parties that it may be meant to manipulate the election process.
Polling was held amidst stringent security measures at 544 polling stations across the state and ended at 4 pm.
Over 1,000 candidates – 881 in Jammu division and 148 in Kashmir division – are in the fray for 263 municipal wards including 49 in Kashmir and 214 in Jammu.
As many as 65 candidates with 61 of them from Kashmir valley have already won the polls uncontested while in 56 wards all in the valley – no nomination was filed, due to which no voting took place there, they said.
Massive security arrangements were put in place for smooth conduct of the polls, the officials said, adding no untoward incident was reported during the polling.
Municipal elections, covering 79 local urban bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh, are being held in four phases.
A total of 3,372 nominations have been filed for 1145 wards. The next phases are scheduled to take place on October 13 and 16.
National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and CPI(M) have boycotted the polls due to the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.
The government has declared holiday on the days of voting in the municipal areas going to polls so as to enable voters to cast their vote.
Re-polling in 2 polling stations
The election Commission of Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday ordered re-poll in one of the polling stations in Anantnag district.
Re-poll shall be held on 13th October at one polling station in Anantnag, namely, New Colony, Shirpora Payeen in Ward no. 23 due to EVM malfunction, the Chief electoral Officer J&K said in a statement issued here.
Also, election shall be held afresh in Ward no.2 of Ramban MC due to death of a candidate of BJP, it added.
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