Srinagar: In the very first Block Development Council (BDC) elections held in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, more than 98% voting was recorded amid the incarceration of most of the mainstream politicians of the state.
The elections were held after Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its special status by the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcated into Union Territories. This is the first election since a clampdown was imposed in Kashmir after the central government’s decision on August 5.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Election Commissioner (CEO) Shailender Kumar said the elections were held in 280 blocks out of a total of 316 in the state. The candidates in at least 27 blocks won unopposed, Kumar told a press conference here.
Most of the winning candidates – 217 — are Independents. The BJP won 81 seats, and the Congress and the Jammu and Kashmir Panthers Party won a single seat each.
There were 26,629 electors — 8,313 women and 18,316 men — for the polls to elect chairpersons of BDCs, which are organisations in the second tier of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), officials said.
PRIs have three levels — village, block and district — and election for the first tier were held last year, which was also boycotted by the National Conference (NC) and the People's Democratic Party (PDP).
The elections were boycotted by the two major local parties — Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and National Conference (NC). Even the Congress had decided to boycott the polls. However, Kumar said they received nominations from two Congress candidates and one of them was rejected.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to congratulate the candidates who emerged victorious in the BDC polls across Jammu, Kashmir, Leh and Ladakh.
I congratulate all those who have emerged victorious in the BDC polls across Jammu, Kashmir, Leh and Ladakh. This marks the dawn of a new and youthful leadership across the regions, which will make a monumental contribution to national progress in the times to come.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 25, 2019
Among the 128 winning candidates in the Kashmir region, 109 were Independents, 18 were from the BJP, and one from the Congress.
However, the BJP in Ladakh couldn’t do much despite the region’s long-pending demand for Union Territory status being approved. The party in the Ladakh division won 11 seats, with Independent candidates securing victory in 20.
In the Jammu division, Independent candidates won the most number of seats – 307 -- while the BJP won 81. The Panthers Party won eight and the Congress one.
These will be the last elections before Jammu and Kashmir is officially divided into two Union Territories.
Kumar said the elections were held peacefully and no untoward incident was reported. “We had put in place adequate security measures, as during the Lok Sabha polls,” he said.