SRINAGAR- Despite BJP being the only major political party which contested Block Development Council (BDC) elections following boycott by all mainstream parties in J&K, the saffron party was able to bag only 81 seats out of 310 blocks in the state.
The mainstream political parties, including National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Congress had boycotted the BDC polls after their majority leaders were detained or put under house arrest on August 5, leaving the field open 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).
However, the independent candidates bagged maximum seats with BJP at distance second followed by J&K National Panthers Party (JKNPP).
Over 98 per cent out of 26,629 eligible panchs and sarpanchs voted in BDCs elections in J&K amid unprecedented security arrangements to prevent any militant attack and other violence.
Chief Electoral Officer, J&K, Shailendra Kumar, who is also Election Authority under J&K Panchayat Raj Act 1989, said Independent candidates bagged a maximum 217 number of blocks followed by BJP with 81 blocks and JKNPP eight.
Interestingly, even in Jammu division and Ladakh region, independent candidates were able to outperform BJP. “Independents bagged 88 blocks followed by BJP with 52 and JKNPP eight,” he said.
He said in Kashmir Division, out of 128 blocks, independents got 109 blocks while BJP bagged 18 seats. “In Ladakh Division, independent candidates got 20 while BJP bagged 11 blocks in the elections,” he added.
“Out of 316 blocks, the elections for chairmanship of BDCs were conducted on 280 blocks while 27 block councils were elected unopposed,” he said.
Out of six BDC where no polling will be held, two were without elected panchs and sarpanchs while four were reserved for women candidates. There was, however, no woman candidate in these BDCs.
The Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (JKPC) alleged that polls were 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 were now held on party lines when leadership of entire opposition are under detention.
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.
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.
PM Credits End of Spl Status to High Voter Turnout in J&K: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday credited the decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir for the high voter turnout in the state’s first-ever Block Development Council (BDC) polls.
“Thanks to the decisions of the Indian Parliament, young and dynamic representatives will shape the destiny of the people of all regions of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said in a tweet.
The first-ever BDC polls in Jammu and Kashmir recorded a 98.3 per cent voter turnout on Thursday.
Twenty seven candidates, including 22 from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), were elected unopposed.
The Congress, the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had boycotted the election.
“I once again congratulate MPs across party lines for the historic decisions on J&K. It would make India’s Parliament proud that due to their historic decision in August this year, the people of J&K have been able to exercise their democratic right with exceptional enthusiasm, as seen in the historic turnout of 98% that too without violence or disturbance,” the prime minister said in another tweet.
“I am delighted to share that the BDC polls in Jammu, Kashmir, Leh and Ladakh were conducted in a very peaceful manner. There was no violence. This shows the people’s unwavering faith in democracy and the importance they accord to grassroots level governance,” he added.
The voters in the BDC polls are the sarpanchs and panchs elected in last year’s panchayat polls.
In August, the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution was scrapped and the state was split into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir with a state Assembly and Ladakh without a legislature. The UTs will come into being on October 31.