Second phase of municipal polls begin in Jammu and Kashmir

Second phase of municipal polls begin in Jammu and Kashmir

Second phase of municipal polls begin in Jammu and KashmirFor the first time, the State Election Commission has decided to keep the details of candidates secret.

Polling for the second phase of the urban local bodies (ULB) elections is underway in Jammu and Kashmir amid tight security on Wednesday.

In 20 wards of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), the first three hours saw around 1200 votes polled under stringent security measures. In north Kashmir’s Bandipora, Sopore and Handwara 738, two, only 17 votes were cast. In volatile south Kashmir’s Anantnag, 170 voters polled in many wards.

In Jammu, polling is picking up pace, a large number of voters queued up outside polling booths since morning in the Chenab Valley.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K, Shaleen Kabra said 1029 candidates are in the fray for 263 municipal wards, including 49 in Kashmir and 214 in Jammu, in the second phase. “Of 1029 candidates, 881 candidates are in the fray in Jammu division and 148 in Kashmir division,” said Mr. Kabra.

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Of 3,46,980 voters, 1,28,104 belong to 18 municipal bodies in Jammu division and 2,18,876 in Kashmir division of five municipal bodies.

After a gap of 10 years, municipal elections for 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh is being conducted in four phases.

Shutdown in Valley

Separatists have called for a shutdown in poll-bound areas in Kashmir on Wednesday. Markets remained closed in many parts of the Valley because of the bandh call. There was a thin traffic on the roads in Srinagar.

Meanwhile, the authorities slowed down internet speed in the Valley as a precautionary measure. A candidate’s house was attacked with petrol bomb in Srinagar’s Hawal. However, there were no reports of any major damage.

For the first time, the State Election Commission has decided to keep the details of candidates secret.

J&K’s two main regional parties, National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have decided to stay away from the polls over the issue of Article 35A and Article 370.

Election commission’s poll timing irks Congress

The State Election Commission’s move to advance the polling time by an hour to pre-dawn 6 a.m. for the second phase urban local bodies has irked the Congress.

Congress vice-president Ghulam Nabi Monga termed the move “an attempt to ferry bogus voters”.

“How can the State Election Commission held elections before the first light of the day. The sunrise timing is 6:32 a.m. in Srinagar and the election timing should have been ideally advanced to 8 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. It’s ploy to facilitate bogus voting. The State machinery is being misused to favour the BJP candidates in this election,” he said.

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