Jammu and Kashmir local body polls: When the Election Commission announced that local body elections will be held in Jammu and Kashmir after a long gap, many raised doubts over whether BJP can sustain the resounding success it got in the 2014 Assembly Elections riding on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘development’ plank. As it turns out, BJP looks set to win a record number of seats in the local body polls that begin next month, albeit in the absence of two traditional powerhouses – National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – who have called for boycotting the polls, according to Indian Express report.
BJP is set to lead at least seven municipal bodies in Kashmir and 70 of its candidates have already won. For the first time, BJP has fielded 325 candidates on 598 municipal seats in Kashmir. The number of BJP candidates have even outnumbered the Congress. BJP has already bagged 13 out of 17 municipal seats in Shopian. The party was also leading in Shopian, Qazigund, Devsar, Pahalgam, Ashmuqam, Tral and municipal bodies.
Another fact which will provide BJP a major boost is that 58 out of 70 candidates from the militancy stronghold districts of south Kashmir’s Kulgam, Shopian, Anantnag and Pulwama have been elected unopposed. Exuding confidence, BJP spokesperson Altaf Thakur said, “Most of our candidates have won unopposed from south Kashmir.”
“We have fielded 325 candidates across Kashmir…only on seats where we expected to put up a good show,” the BJP spokesperson said.
Out of 325 BJP candidates, 36 are Kashmiri Pandits who are residents of Jammu. These candidates were taken to the Valley to file ther nomination papers and then flown back to Jammu. However, BJP asserted that these candidates, once elected, will stay in Kashmir and look after their seats.
The elections to elect 4,130 ‘sarpanches’ (village headmen), 29,719 ‘panches’ (panchayat members) and 1,145 ward commissioners will be held next month. The National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party have decided to boycott the elections, saying the central government is yet to clear its stand on Article 35A of the Constitution, which was challenged in the Supreme Court. Urban local body elections were last held in 2005 and panchayat elections in 2011.