Municipal Walkover: Stay Cool, Elections Not Required In Various Towns

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SRINAGAR: Various towns in Kashmir slated to go to polls to elect their municipal bodies may not require an election at all. The reason: either there have not been any nominations to some wards or there has been just one claimant to the representation of a ward each. In this situation, the requirement of the election may not be there.

The south Kashmir Kulgam district is quite restive for a long time now. Its three assembly constituencies are represented by CPI(M), PDP and National Conference. But it has no mood to participate in the urban local body polls.

Kulgam Municipality, the main local body in the district has 13 wards. On nine wards, there was no nomination at all hence they are vacant. In the remaining four, there was one candidate each, so they are automatically declared winners. Two of them are from BJP, a couple.

The second major local body in the district is that of Frisal. It also has 13 wards. Officials said they have not received even a single nomination for any of the ward. So, no election is required.

Devsar is another local body of the district having eight wards. Here eight nominations have come for these wards, one each for each ward. Since there is no contest, there is no requirement of an election at all.

Qazigund, another local body in the district, has seven wards. On three wards, no form of any nomination came. For the remaining four, the officials have received one candidate each thus making them winners without any contest.

The Yaripora municipality, not far away from Frisal, has six wards. For two wards no nomination papers were filed by anybody. For the remaining four wards, four nominations were received by the officials. Those who came with applications are automatically declared the winners, so no election is required.

“This essentially means, we do not require any election at all,” one senior official said. “The interesting story is that BJP has done better than Congress.”

But the walkover story is not restricted to Kulgam alone. There are many other towns having to face a similar situation either for want of candidates or for want of contest.

Chadoora Municipality in Budgam has 13 wards. There has not been any nomination for five wards and for remaining eight, eight candidates have filed papers and were declared elected unopposed.

The story is almost the same in neighbouring Khansahib Municipality – also falling in the Budgam district. It has seven wards. There were seven applications for one nomination each in every ward so automatically they were declared winners without any opposition.

Beerwah Municipality, which also falls in Budgam district, has 13 wards. Only one candidate has filed his nomination papers and all the remaining 12 are vacant. Beerwah assembly constituency is being represented by none other than Omar Abdullah in the state assembly.

Budgam itself is facing an interesting situation. A strong Shia Muslim centre with major support base to NC, this Municipality has 13 wards. Only one seat is going to witness a contest. For three seats nobody came with a nomination form and in nine wards, there was one applicant each thus making them victorious.

Kunzar in Baramulla is also witnessing no contest because seven candidates have staked claim to seven wards, unopposed.

Achabal is a tourist spot with a Mughal garden and the town’s municipality, perhaps one of the oldest in south Kashmir. It has eight wards. Officials said they have not received any nomination for three wards. Five candidates who have submitted their papers for the five wards were declared victorious, unopposed. This town will also not require an election.

Indian Express reported that 131 out of 187 municipal seats that are going to polls have been either left blank or the candidates have been elected uncontested in the first two phases. “In at least four municipal bodies, more than half of the seats have been drawn blank as no candidate has filed his nomination paper,” the newspaper reported.  When reporters asked Shaleen Kabra, the Chief Electoral Officer of the state, about the trend, he said: “It is people’s choice”.

Bijbehara Municipality in south Kashmir has followed Beerwah in Budgam. Of its 17 wards, only five candidates have submitted their nomination forms leaving 12 vacant. This municipality will also not require an election. Bejbehara was considered a major power centre in south Kashmir for Muftis’ because PDP founder belonged to the town, It is now being represented by Abdul Rehman Veeri.

But there is a contest as well. “In Kupwara, the candidates at two seats have been elected unopposed out of 13 seats while 43 candidates are in the fray for the rest 11 wards,” the Indian Express reported. “In Handwara, candidates in six wards have been elected unopposed while 29 candidates are in the fray for the other seven wards. In Bandipore, forty candidates will contest for the 12 wards while a candidate for one ward has been elected unopposed.”

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