Jammu & Kashmir Local Body Elections 2018: Phase-I of Civic Polls Begin Today, 422 Wards to be Contested
File image of voters participating in the J&K assembly elections of 2014 | (Photo Credits: PTI)

Srinagar, October 8: After a gap of 13 years, the local body elections would finally be held in Jammu & Kashmir. In the first leg of the four-phased civic polls, a total of 422 wards would be contested - 247 wards in Jammu, 149 in Kashmir Valley and 26 in Ladakh.

Voting is scheduled to begin today at 7am, and will continue till 4pm in the evening, said the State Election Commission. The electorate will cast their votes at the 584 polling stations earmarked by the SEC. NC Leader Junaid Mattu Quits Party For Boycotting Civic Polls.

In the first phase of elections, a total of 1,283 candidates are in the fray. The maximum number of nominations was filed from the Jammu region. Notably, the phase-I of the polls would also feature a contest for the 75-ward Jammu Municipal Corporation.

The prime contest in this round of the elections is between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress and the resurgent National Panthers Party (NPP).

The BJP is eyeing towards a clean sweep in Jammu, where the party had won 25 of the 28 assembly seats in the 2014 legislative elections. However, the NPP claims that the region will revolt against the saffron party for not addressing the key issues of the Jammu populace.

In the Valley, meanwhile, the polls lost its sheen as the two prime regional outfits - the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC) - have decided to boycott the local body and panchayat elections. The two parties have attributed their decision to the alleged threat posed by the Centre to Article 35(A) of the Indian Constitution -- which grants special status to J&K.

In solidarity with the NC and PDP, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have also announced a poll boycott.