J-K Block Development Council polls: Independents bag 217 seats, 81 go in BJP kitty

Hindustan Times, Srinagar | ByHT Correspondent
Oct 26, 2019 07:01 AM IST

Polling in the Jammu and Kashmir block development council (BDC) began on Thursday morning amid tight security, with the Congress, National Conference and the PDP boycotting the first electoral exercise after abrogation of the state’s special status .

As many as 217 block development council (BDC) seats in Jammu and Kashmir were won by independent candidates, 81 by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and eight by the J&K National Panthers Party, chief electoral officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar said on Thursday. He said 98.3% voter turnout was recorded, with all major political parties, other than the BJP, staying away from the BDC elections because of continued detention of their leaders.

A village council member shows her inked finger after casting her vote, at Chek Dara, on the outskirts of Srinagar, October 24, 2019.(Waseem Andrabi / HT Photo)
A village council member shows her inked finger after casting her vote, at Chek Dara, on the outskirts of Srinagar, October 24, 2019.(Waseem Andrabi / HT Photo)

“Out of the 26,629 eligible panch and sarpanch, 98.3% voted to elect 310 chairpersons for their respective blocks,” the CEO said.

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The poll percentage for the 10 districts in the Kashmir region was 93.65% and 99.4% for the 10 districts in the Jammu region, the CEO said.

For 309 posts of BDC chairperson posts, 1,012 candidates were in the fray in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

Earlier, BJP state spokesperson Altaf Thakur said the party and its like-minded candidates have emerged victorious in more than 62 blocks in Kashmir. “The party emerged as the single largest party not only in Jammu but also in Kashmir,’’ he said.

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress president, Ghulam Ahmad Mir said, “Participating in these elections was useless as our entire leadership was either in jail or were not allowed to move out of Jammu. This was a ploy of the government to give the BJP a walkover in these polls.”

Panch and Sarpanch are elected by people at the village level. These representatives go on to elect chairpersons of Block Development Councils which are second tier organisation in the Panchayati Raj system.

The state has 316 blocks but elections were held in 283 blocks on Thursday. In 27 blocks, chairpersons were elected unopposed of which 15 were supported by the BJP.

Elections couldn’t take place in two blocks as they did not have an elected panch and sarpanch, while in four blocks reserved for women, there was no elected woman panch.

The panch and sarpanch in Srinagar were taken in a bus under security cover to facilitate them in polling and the district, which has been witnessing a tense atmosphere since August 5 when the state’s special status under Article 370 was abrogated by the Centre, saw 100% polling by 11am. The similar exercise was followed in all remaining districts in Kashmir, where terrorists have threatened to disrupt the democratic exercise.

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