BDC Polls in Kashmir Amid Boycott Today

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JAMMU –  The maiden Jammu and Kashmir Block Development Council (BDC) polls on Thursday will see 1,065 candidates in the fray across 310 polling stations, with Congress, NC and PDP boycotting the first electoral exercise after abrogation of the state’s special status.

There are 26,629 electors — 8,313 women and 18,316 men — for the polls to elect chairpersons of BDCs, officials said.
They said adequate security arrangements have been made at the polling stations, and for panches and sarpanches, who will vote in the BDC elections.
There are 316 blocks in the state, but the election will be held in 310 as two are without elected panches and sarpanches, and four blocks reserved for women have no women candidates, the officials said.

Ballot boxes will be used in the election.

They said 1,092 nominations, including 853 Independents, were found eligible after scrutiny and withdrawal.

Twenty-seven candidates were elected chairpersons in various BDCs unopposed, leaving 1,065 in the fray, the officials said.

The highest number of candidates are in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district (101) and the lowest in south Kashmir’s Shopian (4).

Congress, CPI(M), National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are not taking part in the elections which are being held on party basis.

The Congress has announced its decision to boycott the elections citing “indifferent attitude” of the state administration and continued detention of its leaders in Kashmir.

There are 90 candidates in Baramulla, 82 in Jammu, 76 in Rajouri, 74 in Doda, 72 in Kathua, 58 each in Udhampur and Budgam, 44 in Kishtwar, 43 in Ramban and 39 in Reasi, the officials said.

Leh and Kargil districts together account for 74 candidates, 38 from Kargil and 36 from Leh.Five candidates are in the fray from Srinagar district.

There would be one polling station for one BDC, and accordingly, 310 polling stations have been setup in the state, one in each block where elections are to be held, the officials said.

Security, poll arrangements in place: Govt

All arrangements, including security measures, are in place for conduct of peaceful, free and fair in 310 out of 316 Block Development Council (BDC) on Thursday in Jammu and Kashmir valley.

Out of six BDC where no polling will be held, two are without elected panchs and sarpanchs while four reserved for women candidates. There was, however, no woman candidates in these BDCs.

This is for the first time BDC election was being held in the state.

The mainstream political parties, including National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Congress have boycotted the BDC polls after their majority leaders were detained or put under house arrest on August 5, leaving the field clear for Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) to fight it out against independents.

Those arrested included three former Chief Ministers NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah, his son NC Vice President Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti. Union Home minister Amit Shah has recently said that Dr Abdullah, Omar and Mehbooba have been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).

The Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (JKPC) alleging that polls are being held on party lines to favour BJP. Panchayat and Sarpanch elections were held on non-party lines, Shafiq Mir, president of the JKPC said and questioned why BDC polls are held on party lines when leadership of entire opposition are under detention.

Director General of Police (DGP), Dilbagh Singh said that all arrangements have been made for smooth and peaceful polling. “Adequate security arrangements have been made to foil any attempt by militants and other anti national elements to disturb the polling,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of all districts have finalized all arrangements to conduct, free, fair and peaceful polling tomorrow.

BJP leaders addressed a number of meeting under unprecedented security arrangements in the valley. Recently BJP National General Secretary and Kashmir Incharge Ram Madhav addressed a youth rally, first after scrapping special status of the state, at Tagore Hall here under heavy security bandobast.

Though the opposition alleged that BJP has paid money to candidates to contest as independents, the saffron party said Congress and other parties have put up proxy candidates in the election.

An official said 90 candidates are in fry from Baramulla, 26 in Bandipora, 28 in Ganderbal and 58 in Budgam. “As many as 11 candidates will try their luck in Pulwama, 18 in Kulgam and 55 in Anantnag,” he added.

He said in total 1065 candidates are in fry for BSC polls in Jammu and Kashmir after the final withdrawal of nomination papers. “Most of the 27 candidates, who have been elected unopposed as chairpersons, are from Kashmir,” he added.

The official said of the 1065 candidates, 853 candidates are independent and 239 are from different political parties. “All the arrangements for the smooth conduct of the BDC polls have been finalized,” he added.

He said there are 316 blocks in the state of which two are without elected panches or Sarpanches, besides four blocks have been reserved for women candidates though there are no women candidates thus the polls will be held in 310 blocks. “For smooth conduct of elections, there shall be one polling station for one BDC,” he added.

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