News Kashmir Exclusive
These are unprecedented times in the electoral history of Jammu and Kashmir, the Bharatiya Janata Party is likely to take control of, at least, seven municipal committees in Kashmir Valley unopposed in the elections.
Pertinently, This surprising and out of box development comes after the two main regional parties — National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party — decided to boycott the urban local body polls in protest against the Centre’s plan to scrap the special status of the state especially fiddling with the article 35 a.
All this has made election process look an affair of selection rather than election and heavily dented its credibility . It is worth noting that at least 60 candidates of the BJP have won their seats unopposed, and a majority of them fall in the volatile region of south Kashmir where, out of 20 municipalities in five districts, only four are likely to go to polls. The municipalities which are likely to be headed by BJP candidates are Devsar, Qazigund, Pahalgam, and Ashmuqam in south Kashmir, and Shopian and Sopore towns of north Kashmir.
“We have 350 candidates contesting in 600 municipal wards spread across 10 districts of the Valley. Our 60 candidates have won without fighting the elections. Out of them, six are Kashmiri Pandits,” Altaf Thakur, the BJP’s spokesperson in Srinagar, said on Tuesday at his office.
“After the first phase of nominations for elections was over, the rush of the candidates increased. We had to select among dozens of candidates. People have reposed faith in democracy and we will live up to their expectations,” Thakur said.
As a matter of fact, the 624 wards in Jammu and Kashmir are scheduled to go for the four-phase polls from 8 to 16 October. With elections lacking participation the main popular party touch experts and commoners are voicing concerns.
Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander, A PROMINENT political analyst stated : “ Local bodies elections are essential for a vibrant democracy. But in Kashmir the process has always been disrupted. With the intervention of the BJP led center in J&K the space for regional parties has been curtailed. BJP joined the coalition government only to deceive and marginalise the regional parties. Now when both National conference and people’s democratic party have boycotted the elections BJP is adamant to go ahead with the process in which most seats would be won unopposed. Some of its members particularly the pandits in Jammu have filed nominations for Kashmir who in no way are representative of the wards or constituencies. The BJP again is trying to choke the space and marginalise the regional parties, that will have disastrous ramifications for the future. This election in most cases has no representative character.”