Srinagar, October 10: A poor voter turnout was recorded in the second phase of Jammu & Kashmir local body elections, with only 31.3 per cent of the registered electorate exercising their right to franchise.
The figures released by the State Election Commission highlighted the divide in the political sentiments of Jammu and Kashmir region, with the former recording 80 per cent turnout, whereas, only 3 per cent voters of the Valley tuned out to cast their mandate. BJP Candidate Azad Singh Raju Dies Outside Polling Booth in Ramban District.
The low voter turnout in Kashmir was in line with a meagre 8.3 per cent turnout in the Valley during the first phase of polling, when the Jammu and Ladakh divisions had witnessed over 65 per cent of voting, said a senior SEC official.
Nineteen wards of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, having an electorate of 1.78 lakh, witnessed a turnout of just 2.3 per cent, officials said. Bandipora district, however, witnessed brisk polling as 34.2 per cent of the 8,300 voters exercised their franchise, the officials said.
They said Sopore in north Kashmir and Anantnag in south Kashmir registered turnouts of 6.1 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively. The ongoing municipal polls in Jammu and Kashmir is being held amid the looming threat of militant violence and boycott by two key political parties - the PDP and NC.
Kashmir witnessed low voter turnout despite election authorities having advanced the starting time of polling for the second phase by an hour to 6 am, half an hour before the day break.
The advancement of the time for start of the voting has led to fears among some political parties that it may be meant to manipulate the election process.
Polling was held amidst stringent security measures at 544 polling stations across the state and ended at 4 pm.
Over 1,000 candidates - 881 in Jammu division and 148 in Kashmir division - are in the fray for 263 municipal wards including 49 in Kashmir and 214 in Jammu.
As many as 65 candidates with 61 of them from Kashmir valley have already won the polls uncontested while in 56 wards – all in the valley - no nomination was filed, due to which no voting took place there, they said.
Massive security arrangements were put in place for smooth conduct of the polls, the officials said, adding no untoward incident was reported during the polling.
Municipal elections, covering 79 local urban bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh, are being held in four phases. A total of 3,372 nominations have been filed for 1145 wards. The next phases are scheduled to take place on October 13 and 16.
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.
(With agency inputs)