STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU/SRINAGAR: A total of 78.6 per cent of over 1.28 lakh voters exercised their franchise in Jammu while there was a low voter turnout yet again in Kashmir with 3.4 per cent of 2.20 lakh electorate casting their votes on Wednesday in the second phase of municipal polls in the State, according to poll officials.
The second phase witnessed overall voter turnout of 31.3 percent out of total electorate of 3.47 lakh in the State, they said.
Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra said in the evening that overall 31.3 per cent polling was witnessed in the Phase-II of Municipal Polls-2018 across the State.
Kabra said in Jammu Division 78.6 per cent polling was witnessed in 214 wards that went to polls today while Kashmir Division witnessed average 3.4 per cent polling in 49 wards with Bandipora recording the highest 35.6 per cent voting.
In Jammu Division highest polling percentage of 84.4 per cent was recorded in Reasi, the CEO said.
He said the cumulative polling percentage till date is 47.2 per cent with 67.7 per cent voting recorded in Jammu Division and 8.3 per cent in Kashmir Division in Phase-I and Phase-II.
Kabra said that 544 polling stations were designated across the State for Phase-II with 270 polling stations in Kashmir Division and 274 in Jammu Division.
He said 1,029 candidates are in fray for 263 Municipal Wards for Phase-II with 881 candidates in Jammu division and 148 in Kashmir DIVISION.
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, officials said.
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.
Voters in Jammu region, however, voted enthusiastically in the second phase too, braving chilly weather conditions in the hills of Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Udhampur and Reasi districts, whose upper reaches experienced the season’s first snowfall overnight. The voting covering six districts of Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Reasi, Udhampur and Kathua recorded an average turnout of 76 per cent, the poll officials said.
They said the highest turnout of 84.6 per cent was recorded in Reasi district followed by Kathua (80 per cent), Ramban (79.53), Udhampur (79.21 per cent), Kishtwar (74.75 per cent) and Doda (72.77 per cent).
The enthusiastic voters thronged the polling booths soon after the polling began at 6:00 AM and waited in long queues for their turn as the polling completed in a peaceful manner amid tight security arrangements.
The day-long polling in the Jammu region, however, was marred by the death of BJP candidate Azad Singh Raju (62) at a polling station.
Raju, a former employee of the Irrigation and Flood Control Department died of heart attack at a polling booth in Ramban district shortly after the voting began, the officials said.
The 2nd phase of polling has sealed the fate of 881 candidates, while four candidates have been elected unopposed in this phase in Jammu region.
The ongoing municipal polls are being held amid the looming threat of terrorist 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 voting for the second phase by an hour to 6:00 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 4:00 PM.
Over 1,000 candidates – 881 in Jammu division and 148 in Kashmir Division – are in 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.
In wee hours, Advisor to Governor, K Vijay Kumar visited various parts of Srinagar city to review the preparedness for smooth conduct of second phase polls for Srinagar Municipal Corporation.
DGP J&K Dilbag Singh and IGP Kashmir S P Pani accompanied the Advisor during the visit.
The Advisor also reviewed the security measures.
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.
The government has declared holiday on the days of voting in the municipal areas going to polls so as to enable voters to cast their votes.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper