Polling began in Jammu and Kashmir for 28 constituencies in the last phase of eight-phased district development council (DDC) elections amid sub zero temperature on Saturday. Voting is also being held simultaneously for 285 Panch and 84 Sarpanch seats across the Union Territory.
After the polling ends on Saturday afternoon, the focus will shift to counting of votes and the political parties in the fray will await the results of the first electoral test of strength on the ground after the scrapping of Article 370, which removed Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and turned it into a Union territory. The results for the 280 seats will be out on Tuesday, December 22.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ran a high octane campaign for the DDC polls while the Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration or the PAGD– an amalgam of six political parties, mainly regional– left the campaigning duties to their grassroots workers.
The polling process was largely peaceful barring a couple of grenade attacks on the security forces and an attack on the Apni party candidate in South Kashmir. A personal security officer (PSO) of a former PDP leader was also killed in Srinagar during the long-drawn electoral process.
13 of the 28 seats polling today are from the Kashmir division and 15 are from the Jammu division. A total of 168 candidates are in the fray in the last leg of the elections, according to the State election commissioner (SEC), KK Sharma.
For the 13 DDC seats in the Kashmir division, 83 candidates including 31 women are in contention. In Jammu division, a total of 85 candidates including 15 women are contesting the 15 DDC constituencies.
A total of 630,443 electors including 327,168 men and 303,275 women are eligible to vote today for the 28 DDC constituencies polling today. A total of 1,703 polling stations have been set up including 1,028 in Kashmir division and 675 in Jammu division.
The SEC added that of the 165 sarpanch vacancies notified in the eight phase, 43 have been elected unopposed. “There shall be a contest in 84 constituencies and 249 candidates, including 52 women, are in the fray,” he informed.
Of the total 1,457 panch vacancies notified in this phase, 496 have been elected unopposed while 285 constituencies will be contested by 596 candidates including 156 women.