Cong fails to field candidates for 7 seats of Lakhanpur, 4 other Wards

People waiting in a long queue to cast their votes before a polling booth in Kathua on Wednesday.
People waiting in a long queue to cast their votes before a polling booth in Kathua on Wednesday.

Lal Singh’s brother, ‘bhabi’ in fray against BJP

Avtar Bhat
KATHUA, Oct 10: Though Urban Local Bodies (ULB) elections were held in the State after a gap of over 13 years, Congress- the main opposition party of the country, which dominated political scenario of India for over a century, has failed to field its candidates for all seven seats of Municipal Committee, (MC), Lakhanpur and four other seats of MCs in the district which went to polls during second phase of elections today.
Besides seven seats of MC Lakhanpur there is no Congress candidate at one seat of Municipal Council Kathua , two seats of Municipal Committee, Billawar and one seat of Municipal Committee Nagri.
According to reports, Congress has failed to field any candidate in seven MC seats of Lakhanpur where one Independent candidate Sarmo Din was elected unopposed from Ward Number 2 earlier. There was no candidate of the party in the fray for other six Wards of the MC Lakhanpur also where BJP is facing challenge from Independents only.
However, the voters of Lakhanpur who came out in large numbers to cast their votes in civic body elections today and where from the record number of polling was also reported had no choice except to choose from BJP and Independent candidates. The Independent candidates are mostly supported by recently formed Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan (DSS).
Still a lot of enthusiasm was seen among voters of the area who left their houses early in the morning to reach the polling booths before 6 am, the voting timing, to elect their representatives and strengthen the democratic institutions at grass root level.
Likewise there was no candidate of Congress party for Ward No 21 of Municpal Council Kathua ,Ward No 10 and 12 for Municipal Committees, Billawar and Ward No 7 of Nagri MC and the party gave a free hand to Independents to try their luck with BJP at hustings.
There was so enthusiasm among the voters in entire Kathua district though the Election authorities changed the start of polling timing from 7am to 6 am which despite being too early, the voters had maintained punctuality to reach the polling booths well before the schedule time to cast their vote on first come and first go basis.
Ajay Kumar and Mani Ram from Ward No 10 Hiranagar were among the first persons to cast their votes at 6 am at the polling booth of their Ward while Thoru Ram polled his vote at 6 am in Ward No 11 Hiranagar. In Kathua MC’s Ward No 3, Krishan Lal was the first person who polled his vote at 6 am while the people had reached before the polling stations in Ward No 1, 5 and 20 in Kathua MC before 6 am to cast their vote. Among them were mostly old aged persons and morning walkers.
The women in entire district including Kathua Municipal Corporation and Lakhanpur, Nagri, Billawar, Basholi and Hiranagar Municipal Committees showed lot of enthusiasm in participating the democratic process and they in no way lagged behind the men. There were long queues of women waiting for their turn to cast their vote outside the polling booths in entire district . Out of total number of 43,658 people who cast their vote in the ULB elections in Kathua district today, 22,594 were men while 21064 were women, which proportionately is 51.75 and 48.24 percent respectively.
Even the old men and women did not lag behind to cast their vote and they were brought to polling booths by their children in cars which showed that the people of the State have developed a total faith in the democratic structure of the country and they could not be misled by the parties who had given the poll boycott call.
Ninety five year old Chaju Ram polled his vote at a polling booth in Ward No 2 while 87 year old Soma Devi cast her vote in a polling booth at Ward No 9 Kathua, Eighty five year old Indru Devi cast her vote in Ward No 2, while 90 year old Paar Kour cast her vote in a polling booth of Ward No 20 Sawan Chak. She was brought to polling booth by her son.
The authorities had made elaborate arrangements for the security in the district, especially on some hyper sensitive polling booths and CISF personnel were deployed to maintain order on these booths.
The Ward No 2 Kathua which in past has remained notorious for poll violence remained totally peaceful during the day and no untoward incident was reported from this ward.
Former Minister, Ch Lal Singh cast his vote at a polling booth in this Ward where from his brother, Rajinder Singh Bubbu is contesting as an Independent candidate against the BJP. He besides some Independents are also facing an NPP female candidate in this Ward.
Bubby’s wife Vandna Andotra is also contesting as an Independent candidate from Ward No 18 reserved for women. She is cornered in a direct fight with BJP and Congress candidates.
Lal Singh, while talking to media however appreciated the Government in holding the ULB and Panchyat elections in the State which were overdue. He said people were waiting for these elections since long and with holding of these elections the developmental process in State will also begin and Central funding which has been blocked on account of non holding of Panchayat and ULB elections will get released.
Another setback which the poll boycott parties including NC and BSP received was that their proxy candidates were contesting as independents at various places in the district.
BSP’s Youth Wing district vice president, Sunil Magotra, whose party has boycotted the elections, is contesting from Ward No 17 Kathua as an independent candidate.
The proxy candidates of NC are fighting as independents in Kathua and Hiranagar. Besides, there are about 33 percent female candidates in the fray in Kathua district this time and they too are giving a good fight to the candidates of traditional political parties.
One of the interesting thing in this election to witness was that in Hiranagar where Advocate Vijay Sharma, who was suspended from the BJP after he led the Hindu Ekta Manch (HEM) in Rassana murder case, contesting on BJP ticket from Ward No 11, Hiranagar. He was the State secretary of the party and is entangled in a multi cornered contest.
In Kathua district, mostly the independent candidates are supported by Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan, who may give a tough fight to the official candidates of BJP and Congress.