Srinagar: Polling was underway on Monday for the first phase of four-phased municipal elections in Jammu and Kashmir amidst stringent security arrangements put in place for smooth conduct of the elections. Polling began at 7 AM this morning and would end at 4 PM, officials said.
Under a heavy security blanket, Jammu and Kashmir witnesses the first phase of civic polls today – an election made controversial after the two key parties in the Valley, National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party, pulled out.
With the central government insistent on the election, voting is taking place in 422 of the State’s 1,100 municipal wards. The list includes 149 seats in the Valley, 26 in Ladakh, Jammu and Pirpanjal region.
150 polling stations have been designated for voting in Kashmir Division and 670 in Jammu Division. In Kashmir Division, 138 polling stations have been categorized as hypersensitive while in Jammu Division, 52 polling stations have been categorised hypersensitive, the officials said.
As many as 2,990 candidates are in the fray for the four-phase election, which will end on 16 October. Around 240 candidates have been elected unopposed, the majority of them from the Kashmir valley.
For the first phase, 78 candidates have already been elected unopposed out of which 69 are from the valley. They said voting will take place at 820 polling stations across the State. The total electorate for the first phase is 586064, the official said.
The BJP has said that it has got control over seven municipal committees in Kashmir Valley as 75 of its nominees have been elected unopposed. They said 1,204 candidates are in the fray for 321 municipal wards, including 83 in Kashmir division and 238 in Jammu division.
They said massive security arrangements have been put in place for the smooth conduct of the polls.
Municipal elections, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh, are being held in four phases. A total of 3,372 nominations have been filed for 1,145 wards. The next phases take place on 10th, 13th and 16th October.
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 a holiday on the day of poll in municipal areas going to polls so as to enable voters to cast their vote.