UPDATE J&K Municipal elections: BJP candidate injured, voter turnout low

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A BJP candidate was hurt in a stone pelting incident in Bandipora area in the first phase of J&K municipal elections in 422 of the 1,145 wards that began on Monday morning. The voter turnout till mid-day was low. After more than a decade voters in J&K will elect their representatives to the state’s 79 municipal bodies in the four-phased polls.

Terror threats and boycott calls by separatist groups have marred the process with two main regional parties, the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), boycotting the elections.

Unprecedented security arrangements have been put in place by the state authorities and the Election Commission, to ensure peaceful polls . Also, all candidates have been provided either cluster security in hotels or individually in the Valley.

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The polling, began at 7 AM, will end at 4 PM on Monday.

According to the Election Commission, a total of 1,283 candidates will be contesting in the 422 municipal wards . This time a large numbers of independents candidates are also in fray. The list includes 149 seats in the Valley and 26 in the Ladakh, Jammu and Pirpanjal region.

The elections for the urban local bodies- over which the National Conference has a strong hold The list includes 149 seats in the Valley and 26 in the Ladakh, Jammu and Pirpanjal region.- were last held in 2005.

National Conference and the PDP pulled out, of the current elections that are being held after 13 years, alleging uncertainty over centre’s stand on Article 35A. The PDP, whose short alliance with the BJP ended in June said under the circumstances, the centre’s insistence on holding the election would be a ‘mockery’ of the democratic process.

This municipal election is also witnessing two significant firsts – electronic voting machines are being used for the first time in accordance with the rules that have been amended in 2016 and migrants are allowed to cast their vote through postal ballots.

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Since the migrants continue to be enrolled in the respective assembly constituencies from which the municipal committees or panchayat’s would derive the rolls, therefore the facility will be provided for them to vote.

The counting of votes will be done on October 20.

Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam had also announced that the Centre would provide a one-month extra salary to all those government employees who will be on poll duty.

(With ANI Inputs)

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