Both National Conference (NC) and People's Democratic Party (PDP) decision to boycott upcoming Urban Local Bodies (ULB) and Panchayat polls in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is proving to be a blessing in disguise for the BJP in the valley.
Due to the indifferent response to municipal polls in the Valley, the candidates in nearly 46 percent of the wards of the region’s urban bodies going to polls in the first phase (on Oct 8th ) have won uncontested.
As per the reports, BJP candidates have been declared winners unopposed (without polling) in the majority of the wards.
Official figures reveal, in 13 municipal bodies of Kashmir, 69 wards have gone uncontested out of 149 wards which are going for polls on Oct 8th, and the majority of the contenders who won uncontested are from the BJP.
BJP also has won Devsar and Qazigund municipal committees in south Kashmir uncontested. All the 08 wards of Devsar municipal committee received only 01 nomination and the candidates won, unopposed.
Qazigund that has 07 wards, and on 03 wards, there were no nominations and for the remaining 04, nominations (04) have been received from the BJP candidates making them unopposed winners. Nobody has filed nomination papers for the municipal committee of Frisal, Kulgam district of south Kashmir.
Mostly response is very low from the Shopian, Kulgam, and other districts of South Kashmir.
A Congress Party worker in South Kashmir said, there was “no enthusiasm” about the polls. Beyond a few closed-door meetings by party leaders, nobody had even dared conduct public meetings. “Opposition from militants has made us apprehensive,” he explained.
More than bullets, he added, party workers feared acid attacks. “If it was just the gun, there are areas where you know militants are not present and you can feel safe,” he explained. “But what do you do about acid attacks? There are sympathisers in every nook and corner.”
Hizbul Mujahideen operational commander Riyaz Naikoo had threatened people interested in participating in the panchayat or municipal polls in an audio message.
On 28th August, In a video message, the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo said those filing nominations should take along shrouds as well. “And remember, we have brought the hydrochloric acid and sulphuric acid,” he said. “Be ready for that.”
In order to provide the safe environment both to the voters and candidates, 40,000 additional paramilitary soldiers will be deployed during the urban local bodies’ elections, out of which 20,300 personnel have been camping in Kashmir since last week of May when they had arrived for the security of Amarnath Yatra. Government is also providing safe accommodations to the contesting candidates in the hotels in Srinagar.
In total, 624 wards will go for polling in the Kashmir valley, out of which, in the first phase 175 wards will go for polls, in the second phase 166 wards, 151 wards in 3rd phase will go for polls and 132 wards will go for polls in 4th phase.
Meanwhile, Joint Hurriyat resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik has called for a boycott of the elections scheduled from this month.
It is pertinent to mention that Municipal polls are being conducted after a gap of 13 years with the last elections in 2005 and the last panchayat polls were held in April-May 2011 with 80% turnout. J&K has 4,378 panchayats.
During the last panchayat election held in 2011 after a gap of nearly 37 years, there were 4,098 sarpanch and 29,402 Panch constituencies. The division-wise constituencies included 2,145 (sarpanch) in Kashmir (including Ladakh) and 1,953 in Jammu, while there were 15,767 Panch segments in Kashmir (including Ladakh) and 13,635 in Jammu.
Due to delay in panchayat polls, the central government has stopped certain funds to Jammu and Kashmir especially the amount that has to be spent only through the elected panchayats.