Over 3000 candidates join election fray defying boycott call, threats

Maximum contestants in JMC; none in 2 bodies

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Oct 3: Notwithstanding boycott call by two major mainstream political parties-the National Conference and PDP-which resulted into election of many candidates uncontested and number of Wards remaining vacant in Kashmir, over 3000 candidates have jumped into election fray for 1145 Wards and 79 Municipal bodies across the State.
Describing number of candidates as “significant and encouraging”, sources said this is probably for the first time that such a large number of candidates were in fray for the Municipal elections and that too despite boycott call by NC, PDP, CPM and BSP and threats being constantly issued by the militant outfits.
“The militant threats have failed to deter the candidates barring just some pockets of South Kashmir and Budgam as quite good number of candidates have joined the election process in rest of the districts in the Valley besides Jammu and Ladakh regions. Number of candidates was also quite good in Srinagar district including the Srinagar Municipal Corporation.
Official data of the Chief Electoral Officer after completion of scrutiny of last and fourth phase of Municipal elections available with the Excelsior revealed that highest number of 1283 candidates were in race for Phase-I election of Urban Local Bodies followed by 1094 in Phase-II, 411 in Phase-III and 249 in Phase-IV. While scrutiny of the nomination of fourth phase ended today, the candidates can withdraw nominations till October 5. However, going by the trend of withdrawals in three phases, sources believed that hardly 10 to 15 candidates might opt out and number of candidates would stay beyond 3000.
The figure of 3000 was in addition to about 215 candidates, who have been elected unopposed, sources said.
Data showed that 3372 candidates filed nomination papers for 1145 Wards across the State for four-phase Municipal elections scheduled to be held on October 8, 10, 13 and 16. After scrutiny, nominations of 3293 candidates were found valid and after withdrawals, 3037 candidates were trying their luck for two Municipal Corporations (Jammu and Srinagar), six Municipal Councils (Poonch, Kathua, Udhampur, Sopore, Baramulla and Anantnag) and 71 Municipal Committees.
As already reported exclusively by the Excelsior out of 624 Wards in Kashmir, 215 have gone uncontested while 177 didn’t find any candidates. In Jammu, however, out of 521 Wards, only 13 have gone uncontested while there were candidates in each and every Ward. Number of uncontested candidates could slightly go up after withdrawal of nomination papers for fourth phase on October 5, sources pointed out.
The highest numbers of candidates for any Municipal body across the State were in 75-Wards Jammu Municipal Corporation where number of contestants was 447. However, Frisal Municipal Committee in Kulgam district and Khrew Municipal Committee in Pulwama district, both in South Kashmir with 13 Wards each didn’t find even a single candidate to contest. No candidate filed nominations there for any of the 13 Wards in the two Committees, sources said. They were followed by Beerwah Municipal Committee of Budgam district where there was only one candidate in fray for one out of 13 Wards and he was elected unopposed.
The Phase-I of election on October 8, which covered all Municipal bodies of three districts of Jammu region including Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch and both Committees of Ladakh regions-one each in Leh and Kargil districts-and parts of Srinagar, Kupwara, Bandipora, Baramulla, Budgam, Kulgam and Anantnag districts of Kashmir, have 1283 candidates in fray. As many as 78 candidates got elected unopposed.
In Phase-II, which will see polling on October 10 in the districts including Kupwara, Bandipora, Baramulla, Srinagar, Budgam, Kulgam and Anantnag of Kashmir region, Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Udhampur, Reasi and Kathua in Jammu province, there were 1094 candidates in the race. Sixty five candidates have already been elected uncontested.
Phase-III of elections on October 13 will cover Bandipora, Baramulla, Srinagar, Pulwama and Anantnag districts of Kashmir valley and Samba district of Jammu, has a total number of 411 candidates while 49 have been elected without any contest.
The fourth phase of election on October 16 will cover Baramulla, Ganderbal, Srinagar, Pulwama, Shopian and Anantnag districts of the Valley for which 249 candidates have been declared as valid after scrutiny today. October 5 is last date of withdrawal after which total number of candidates and those winning unopposed will be announced.
Interestingly, 330 candidates are in the fray for the 74 Wards of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC). Seven candidates in the SMC have been declared uncontested.
The first phase of polling will be held on October 8, followed by the second phase on October 10, third phase on October 13 and the fourth and final phase on October 16. The counting of votes will be taken up on October 20.
Around 17 lakh electors are eligible to vote in the Municipal polls in Jammu and Kashmir, sources said. However, total number of electorates eligible for voting will come down due to unopposed elections and uncontested Wards, sources noted.
Out of the total 1,145 Wards of Municipality and Local Bodies, 90 Wards have been reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) and 38 for Scheduled Tribes (ST), which include 31 and 13 Wards reserved for SC and ST women, respectively. In addition to this, 322 Wards have been reserved for women belonging to the open category.
The Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has the highest number of 6,63,775 electors with 74 Wards followed by the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) with 75 wards and 4,00,301 electors, sources said.