Panchayat polls in Kashmir: In first seven phases, no contestant on more than half panch seatshttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/panchayat-polls-in-kashmir-in-first-seven-phases-no-contestant-on-more-than-half-panch-seats-5483946/

Panchayat polls in Kashmir: In first seven phases, no contestant on more than half panch seats

Of the 13,347 panch (member) seats that went to polls in the first seven phases, 7,387 remain vacant as no one contested the elections. Also, in 3,453 other seats, candidates were elected unopposed.

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Of the 13,347 panch (member) seats that went to polls in the first seven phases, 7,387 remain vacant as no one contested the elections. Also, in 3,453 other seats, candidates were elected unopposed. (Express photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

More than half of the seats that went to polls in the first seven phases of the panchayat elections in Kashmir had no candidates.

Of the 13,347 panch (member) seats that went to polls in the first seven phases, 7,387 remain vacant as no one contested the elections. Also, in 3,453 other seats, candidates were elected unopposed.

The absence of candidates is in stark contrast to the turnout of over 40 per cent. The percentage of vacant panch seats and seats with single candidates are likely to increase when the seats — mostly from the South Kashmir — go to polls in the remaining two phases.

Also Read: J-K: Voting for 8th phase of panchayat polls underway

According to official figures, 81.2 per cent of panch seats across the 10 districts of the Valley either had no candidate or had just one. And of these, 55.34 per cent of panch seats had no contestants.

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In the four districts of south Kashmir — Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama — 83.47 per cent of panch seats that have gone to polls so far are vacant.

In Anantnag, of the 2,018 seats, 1,578 remain vacant while candidates on 400 other seats were elected unopposed.

In Kulgam, there was no contest in 98 per cent of the 353 panch seats that went to polls in the seven phases. Of the 353, 305 had no candidates and 41 had one candidate.

In Pulwama, of the 751 seats that went to polls in the first seven phases, no candidate filed nomination for 696 seats, while 52 candidates were elected unopposed.

In Shopian, the hotbed of militancy in south Kashmir, of the 516 panch seats, 452 remained vacant while 64 candidates were elected unopposed. Polling was not conducted even on a single seat there.

In central Kashmir, there has been no contest on the 96 per cent of panch seats while 75 per cent seats have remained vacant.

Of the 1,799 seats in Budgam, 1,416 remain vacant while candidates on 327 seats were elected unopposed.

Similarly, in Srinagar, 61 of the 79 seats have remained vacant while candidates on 14 seats have been elected unopposed. In Ganderbal, 583 seats out of 863 have remained vacant while candidates on 236 seats have been elected unopposed.

However, the figures improve slightly in north Kashmir where there was no contest in 81.3 per cent seats. Of the 5,967 seats that went to polls so far, 2,620 have remained vacant while candidates in 2,237 seats were elected unopposed.

In Baramulla, of the 2,581 seats, 1,595 had no candidates while candidates on 668 seats were elected unopposed. In Bandipore, only 129 of 837 seats went to polls. While 400 seats remain vacant, there was only one candidate in fray in another 308 seats. In frontier Kupwara district, of the 2,549 seats, 625 remained vacant while there was no contest on another 1,261 seats.

However, the figures for sarpanch elections are slightly better. Of the 1,514 sarpanch seats that went to polls in first seven phases, 445 remained vacant while candidates on 514 seats have been elected unopposed.

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Though Kashmir recorded a dismal voter turnout of 4.27 per cent in the municipal polls held in October, the number of vacant municipal wards was far less.

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