SRINAGAR: As the results of 280 District Development Council (DDC) seats pour in today, the fate of 2178 candidates including 450 women in Jammu and Kashmir will be decided well before the dusk.
As per official data, 2178 candidates are in the fray across Jammu and Kashmir to elect 14 DDC members for each of the 20 districts.
In anticipation of the counting, authorities detained three PDP leaders Sartaj Madni, Peer Mansoor and Naeem Akhter on Monday. No details are known about the cases they were detained in. PDP is a key constituent of the PAGD, one of the main stakeholders in the DDC polls.
Theis election meant for developmental activities will see the fate of various former aw makers and the ministers as well. It will also offer a clear trend of the politics after the abrogation of Article 370.
The elections to this third tier of the Panchayati Raj system were held for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir. It is the first electoral exercise after the abrogation of Article 370 and binning of Article 35-A in August 2019. The polling was held in eight phases from November 28 and ending on December 19 with 51 per cent of the 57 lakh eligible voters exercising their right of franchise.
Kashmir witnessed the highest turnout of 40.65 per cent in the first phase while the Jammu region polled 64.21per cent in the same phase.
In the subsequent phases Kashmir witnessed 33.5 per cent in the second phase; 31.61 per cent in third; 31.95 per cent in fourth; 33.57 per cent in fifth; 31.55 per cent in sixth; 39.52 per cent in seventh and 29.91 per cent in the eighth phase.
Jammu division, on the other hand, witnessed higher participation across phases with 65.6 per cent in the second phase; 68.88 per cent in third; 69.31 per cent in fourth; 66.66 per cent in fifth; 68.56 per cent in sixth; 71.93 per cent in seventh and 72.71 per cent in the eighth phase.
Six mainstream political parties—including the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement, Awami National Conference and Communist Party of India (M)— contested the polls in an alliance under the banner of the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) formed for restoration of the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Congress, initially a part of the PAGD, distanced itself from the alliance as the BJP targeted the opposition party for being in league with the ‘Gupkar Gang’. Although Congress went alone in the last seven phases, it is widely believed that its understanding with the PAGD remains intact.
The PAGD on Monday said that they will “sweep” the BJP in these elections while the BJP claimed to oust them in return.
The Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party formed earlier this year is expected to have some influence in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district where it has strong leaders who have been former lawmakers from their respective constituencies.
State Election Commissioner KK Sharma on Sunday reviewed preparations and other arrangements for the counting process.
“The Returning Officers will be in charge of the counting process for each DDC constituency. The entire counting exercise will be monitored and recorded to achieve full transparency,” Sharma said.
He said counting of ballot papers would be taken up on a round-wise basis after proper mixing of ballot papers from different polling stations as per the prescribed procedure and counting guidelines.
Elaborating further about the process, the SEC said that the process in each centre will be supervised by a Returning Officer and Assistant Returning Officer and added that the counting exercise will be recorded by CCTV cameras, and will be overseen by observers also.
The SEC also directed the concerned DCs that COVID-19 protocol must be observed through mandatory masks, and hand sanitisers at each table, besides all the counting staff and other officials should compulsorily wear masks before entering the halls.