In the third phase of the local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir, voter turnout crossed a little over 16 per cent today. While people in Jammu queued up outside polling booths taking the voting percentage to 81.4, those in the Valley largely stayed away. Just like in the previous phases, around 3.5 per cent votes were cast.
In Jammu’s Samba district, 82 per cent voted in the third phase, a repeat of the high voter turnout recorded in the first two phases in the region.
Terror-hit Baramulla in north Kashmir, however, saw 75.3 per cent voter turnout, but in Anantnag in south Kashmir, the percentage nose-dived to 3.2 and 1.8 in Srinagar probably because of the boycott call by two key parties — Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC).
At the end of the three phases, Jammu division recorded an aggregate voter turnout of 68.4 per cent while Kashmir witnessed only 6.7 per cent turnout. The state’s aggregate voter turnout for three phases is 41.9 per cent.
The elections for the fourth and final phase will be held on October 16. As many as 260 candidates will be contesting for 132 wards.
Municipal elections are being held, amid tight security, after a gap of 13 years, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh electors across the state.
The officials said 3,372 nominations have been filed for 1,145 wards. The counting of votes will be held on October 20.
The PDP and the National Conference – which boycotted the elections citing uncertainty over the Centre’s stand on Article 35A of the Constitution — have called the election a “mockery” of democratic process.
The Article 35A defines permanent residents of the state and excludes outsiders from owning property and getting benefits like government jobs. Passed through a Presidential order in 1954, the Article has been challenged in Supreme Court, which deferred the hearing to January after a request from the centre, which cited the local bodies’ elections.