Srinagar: Congress parts has emerged as the single largest party in Urban Local Bodies (ULB) election held earlier this month though Independent (IND) candidates will be the kingmakers in most of the 40 municipal bodies in the valley.
Meanwhile, independent candidates will also play an important role in electing the Mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), where 49 wards were bagged by Independents while Congress won 12 seats, followed by BJP with 4 seats.
The performance of Independent candidates and BJP, which opened its account in Kashmir, could be attributed to the NC and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) besides Communist Party of India (M) boycotting the Urban Local Body (ULB) elections in the state, alleging that state and Central governments failed to clear their stand on Article 35 A.
An election officer on Saturday evening said that Congress bagged 79 seats while Independent candidates won 103 wards, followed by BJP with 24 wards and JD(U) with one ward during the counting of votes in 186 wards, out of 598 wards, which went to polls in four phases from October 8 to October 16.
There was absolutely no campaigning by candidates, who remained confined to secure zones after the killing of two workers of the NC in broad daylight in the old city at Karfali Mohalla Habba Kadal. The names of candidates were also kept secret for security reasons.
Nearly 70 per cent of wards did not witness any polling in the valley as there was either no candidate at all or there was only one contestant.
Meanwhile, he said Congress won 78 wards uncontested in the valley while BJP bagged 76 wards, followed by Independent candidates with 75 wards.
Polling was held only in 186 wards out of 598 wards spanning across 40 municipal bodies in 10 districts of the valley. The remaining 412 wards – constituting of 68.89 per cent of the total – did not require any voting at all.
He said the total number of wards, contested and uncontested, won by Congress in Kashmir valley is 157 while Independent candidates bagged 178 wards, followed by BJP 100 wards.
The Congress has won 18 wards in Ladakh region, where Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to make inroad in the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) elections held earlier this month.
The Congress made a clean sweep by winning all the 13 wards in Leh Municipal Committee (LMC) while it bagged five seats in Kargil Municipal Committee (KMC), where eight wards have gone to Independent (IND) candidates.
He said that all the 13 Congress candidates, contesting ULB polls for LMC, were declared winners. “The BJP failed to open its account in the LMC,” he said.
“In Kargil, out of 13 wards, Congress won five while eight were bagged by independent candidates,” he said, adding BJP failed to to open account in Kargil as well. Independent candidates will hold the key in electing the chairman in KMC.
The Ladakh Parliamentary constituency is represented by BJP’s Thupstan Chhewang in the Lok Sabha. However, the Congress won three of the four Assembly seats in Ladakh region during the state elections held in 2014. The other Assembly constituency is represented by an independent MLA.
Over 30 per cent wards in these ULBs spread across Kashmir valley — 185 wards — will remain unrepresented as no nomination papers were received for them. Meanwhile, 231 wards were those which saw no polling as solitary candidate in each of these wards was declared winner unopposed. The remaining 13 municipal bodies in the valley recorded 8.3 per cent polling in the first phase, 3.4 per cent in the second, 3.5 per cent in the third and 4.2 per cent in the fourth and last phase.
“Congress won 12 wards in Srinagar, one ward in Budgam, one ward in Ganderbal, 13 wards in Baramulla, 17 wards in Bandipora, 16 in Anantnag,” he said.
He said BJP bagged four seats in Srinagar, two in Ganderbal, seven in Baramulla, one in Kupwara, two in bandipora and eight in Anantnag.
The polling passed by and large peaceful though the voting percentage remained low. However, two National Conference (NC) workers were killed by gunmen in the Kralpora area of old city shortly before the first phase of polling.
Meanwhile, the Congress which had earlier announced to stay away from the polls joined the fray in the last minute, saying that field cannot be left open for the saffron party, BJP. However, Governor Satya Pal Malik questioned the boycott by NC and PDP, saying when both the parties took part in Kargil Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) at Kargil, the issue of Article 35 A was there. “These parties are misleading people and trying to take political mileage in Assembly elections,” he added.
Meanwhile, unprecedented security arrangements were made in around the counting centres and only those having valid passes issued by the authorities were allowed to enter there. However, video and photo journalists were not allowed to enter the counting hall by the security forces despite having valid passes issued by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO).