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Campaigning for local polls picks up pace in Jammu region as dates draw closer

The last election to the municipal bodies in the state was held in 2005 through secret ballot and the term of five years had expired in February 2010.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2018 17:57 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Urban Local Bodies polls,ULB polls,Jammu
The election will be a close contest between the BJP and the Congress as the National Conference and the PDP, the two main regional parties, have announced their decision to boycott the polls over the Article 35-A issue.(AFP File Photo)

The campaigning to woo voters has picked up in this region of Jammu and Kashmir as the dates for the first phase of Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls draw closer.

The ULB polls are scheduled to begin on October 8. A total of 422 wards, covering municipal corporations, municipal committees and municipal councils, spread across various districts, both in Jammu and Kashmir divisions, will go to polls in the first phase of the four-phased election.

An electorate of 16,97,291 are eligible to vote in 1,145 wards across the state.

The last election to the municipal bodies in the state was held in 2005 through secret ballot and the term of five years had expired in February 2010.

The political activity in the Jammu region has gained momentum after the governor administration decided to hold the municipal and panchayat polls – the later being held in nine phases in November-December. The last general election to the panchayats was held in 2011, after a gap of 10 years. The panchayats elected in 2011 completed their tenure in July 2016.

The campaigning is going on smoothly and is gaining momentum with each passing day, officials said.

The election will be a close contest between the BJP and the Congress as the National Conference and the PDP, the two main regional parties, have announced their decision to boycott the polls over the Article 35-A issue. Local parties like the resurgent National Panthers Party (NPP) will give a tough competition to the two national parties in this region. Independent candidates, some of them former Congress and BJP leaders, are also in the fray.

Earlier this month, the NC had said it will not participate in the polls “unless and until the government of India and the state government clears its position, and takes effective steps to protect Article 35-A in and outside the court”.

Later, the PDP also distanced itself from the election. “The situation created by linking panchayat polls with the case pending in Supreme Court on Article 35-A has created apprehension in the minds of the people, who see it as an assault on the special constitutional position of the state…It was felt that any attempt to impose any electoral exercise in the current atmosphere of fear and apprehension would seriously erode the credibility of the process… It (conducting elections) would defeat its very purpose,” PDP president Mehbooba Mufti had said.

Notwithstanding the boycott by the two parties, over 1,100 candidates have filed their nomination papers for 247 wards of Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch districts, which are going to polls in the first phase, and are canvassing for votes.

They are using both traditional ways as well as social media to reach out to voters.

The candidates, along with their supporters, are going door-to-door, distributing handbills and have also put up hoardings and posters at different places in their wards.

Vehicles fitted with public address systems and the banners carrying the photographs of the candidates could be seen making rounds seeking public support.

The highest 815 nominations have been filed for the Jammu municipal corporation (JMC) and seven municipal committees of the district. Over 200 nominations were filed in the five municipal committees in Rajouri district and 100 nominations in two municipal committees of Poonch and Surankote in Poonch district, the officials said.

The nomination papers would be scrutinised Wednesday while the date for withdrawal of candidature has been set for September 28, they said. The date for counting of polls is October 20.

Currently, the state is under governor’s rule. The PDP-BJP government collapsed in June this year.

First Published: Sep 26, 2018 17:57 IST