Boycott proves windfall for BJP in J&K municipal polls

Boycott proves windfall for BJP in J&K municipal polls

Polling officials put ink mark on a voter's finger. (PTI file pic for representation only)

The decision of two major regional parties – National Conference (NC) and People's Democratic Party (PDP) – to boycott urban local bodies (ULB) and Panchayat polls in Jammu & Kashmir is proving to be a windfall for the BJP.

Due to the lukewarm response to municipal polls in Kashmir, the candidates in nearly 46% of the wards of the region’s urban bodies going to polls in the first phase have won uncontested. And in a majority of the wards, where the winner has emerged without polling, the candidate is from the BJP.

Official figures reveal 69 wards have gone uncontested out of 149 wards in 13 municipal bodies of Kashmir for which polls are scheduled for October 8. And the majority of the candidates who won uncontested are from the BJP.

The maximum number of wards which remained uncontested are in south Kashmir which was the epicentre of the 2016 unrest triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani.

Though the Congress is in the fray, the boycott by the NC and PDP has benefitted the BJP, which won Devsar and Qazigund municipal committees in south Kashmir uncontested. All the eight wards of Devsar municipal committee received only one nomination and the candidates won without a contest.

Similar is the case with Qazigund, another local body in Kulgam district, which has seven wards. On three wards, there were no nominations and for the remaining four, the officials have received four nominations from the BJP candidates, making them winners without a contest. At several other places, the BJP candidates, a majority of them youths, have won without a contest.

Apart from these wards, there are some wards in urban local bodies where nobody has filed nomination papers. Not a single candidate has filed nomination papers for the municipal committee of Frisal in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. This is the lone urban body in the state where nobody has entered the fray.

The boycott call given by the NC and PDP could not have come at a more opportune time for the BJP, which claims to have more than 3 lakh workers in the Valley.

In the 2014 Assembly polls, the saffron party, which made a determined bid to score its first poll victory in the Valley, not only drew a blank but suffered the ignominy of seeing all but one of its 34 candidates lose their security deposits.

However, the ongoing ULB and Panchayat polls have given the BJP a chance to seize the opportunity to directly carry out activities in Kashmir as the NC and PDP have left an open space for the saffron party to take over local governance in the Valley.