In almost 60 per cent of the seats going for municipal polls in the Valley in the first two phases, either no candidate has filed nomination or nominees have been elected unopposed. In four municipal bodies, no candidate has come forward in more than half the seats, while in at least 12 of the 24 municipal bodies, no voting would be needed.
A total of 315 seats will go to polls in the first two phases, on October 8 and October 10, of which 185 have seen either no candidate or no contest. These seats do not include the more volatile regions of the Valley, including Shopian, Tral, Pulwama and Awantipora in South Kashmir and Hajin and Sopore in North Kashmir — going to polls in the third and fourth phases — which may see even more muted response.
The figures for 307 seats were released by Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra four days after the last date of filing of nominations ended for the first phase. Asked what would happen to the 62 seats where no candidate had filed nomination, Kabra said “such seats would see by-elections”. On 123 seats being won uncontested, he said, “It is the people’s choice.”
The response for the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, however, has been huge. For its 23 wards going to polls in the first two phases, 89 candidates have filed nomination papers.
Not a single candidate has filed nomination papers from Frisal municipality (13 wards) in South Kashmir’s Kulgam; only one has come forward in Beerwah municipality (13 wards) of Central Kashmir’s Budgam; South Kashmir’s Bijbehara municipality (17 wards) has five candidates; and Yaripora municipality (6 wards) of Kulgam has three candidates in the fray. In Central Kashmir’s Chadoora municipality, while there are no candidates for five wards, the remaining eight have one candidate each, who have been declared elected unopposed.
Similarly, there would be no elections in Qazigund, Achabal, Devsar, Kulgam and Khansahib municipalities. In Kulgam town, there is no candidate for eight of 13 wards, while five candidates have been elected unopposed. In Qazigund, out of the seven wards, three have drawn a blank while candidates on four seats have been elected unopposed. In eight wards of Achabal municipality, three have no candidates while five seats have been won unopposed. All the eight candidates in the eight wards of Devsar in south Kashmir’s Kulgam have been elected unopposed. Similarly in Khansahib municipality in Central Kashmir’s Budgam, all the seven candidates have been elected unopposed.
The seats which will see a contest are in Kupwara, Handwara and Bandipore municipalities and Baramulla Municipal Council. In Kupwara, while two candidates have been elected unopposed on 13 seats, 31 are in the fray for the rest 11 wards. In Handwara, candidates in six wards have been elected unopposed while 29 are in fray for the other seven wards. In Bandipore, 40 candidates will contest for 12 wards while one has been elected unopposed.
In Baramulla Municipal Council, candidates in six wards have been elected unopposed while 40 are in fray for the other 15 wards.