As filing nominations for the third phase of urban local bodies' elections closed on Saturday, it appears that BharatiyaJanata Party is set to win the majority of the municipalities in southern Kashmir.
Elections in the third phase on October 13 would be held for Tral and Awantipora municipal committees (MCs) in Pulwama district and Mattan, Seer, Aishmuqam and Pahalgam MCs in Anantnag district.
Nomination papers will be scrutinised on October 1 and the last date for walking out of the contest is October 3.
Only four candidates have turned up to contest for 13 wards of Tral MC, an official said, three of them migrant Kashmiri Pandits affiliated with BJP, and one a local resident contesting as an independent candidate.
"With no contest, all four are likely to get elected unopposed," he said. No one has turned up to contest in the nine other wards.
Tral, the hometown of slain Hizb commander BurhanMuzafarWani, has remained the hotbed of militancy since the nineties, but after 2010 it became the epicenter of the current resurgent phase of the insurgency.
In Awantipora MC, only three candidates are contesting independently in 13 wards. "Neither Congress nor BJP has fielded any candidate from here," an official said. In Seer MC in Anantnag district, two candidates have turned up to contest in two of the 13 designated wards and both, affiliated with BJP, will be elected unopposed. "In 11 other wards, no one is contesting at all," an official said. In the neighbouringAishmuqam MC, five candidates, all affiliated with BJP, have filed nominations for five of the total 13 wards. There is no contest in rest of the nine wards. In Pahalgam MC, eight BJP-affiliated candidates are likely to be elected unopposed in eight of the total 13 wards. None is contesting in five of the wards.
However, Mattan MC, which has a sizeable minority community population, will see 25 candidates in contest for 13 wards.
"Both Congress and BJP have fielded candidates from almost all wards here," said an official. He said that migrant Kashmiri Pandits as well as Sikhs have joined the poll fray. Already, eight BJP candidates were elected unopposed from nine wards of municipal committee Devsar in Kulgam district after the nominations were filed for the first phase.
He said a BJP candidate would be chairman of the committee for the first time. In Qazigund Municipal Committee of Anantnag district, which has seven seats and polling for which is to be held in the first phase, BJP is likely to win four seats unopposed and the party is set to have its chairman in this committee for the first time.
Also, three of the six BJP candidates in fray for 13 wards of Kulgam MC in the first phase will be elected unopposed.
Four candidates have come forward for the seven wards of Yaripora MC and none for 13 wards of Frisal MC in Kulgam district, where elections are scheduled in the second phase.
"Frisal is the only MC where no one has turned up to contest," said an official. Three BJP candidates in fray for six of the 17 wards of Bijbehara—polls scheduled in the second phase—too will be elected unopposed.
Bijbehara is the hometown of former chief minister Mufti Saeed and his daughter Mehbooba Mufti. In Anantnag MC, one of the largest urban local bodies with 25 wards, 66 candidates are in fray for the second phase. "Both Congress and BJP have fielded candidates in almost all wards here while a substantial number of independent candidates have also joined the contest," said an official. He said this is the only urban local body in southern Kashmir where at least two candidates are contesting in each ward.
In Achabal MC, the polling for which is scheduled in the first phase, a mother-son migrant Kashmiri Pandit duo affiliated with BJP is likely to be declared victorious unopposed. Nine candidates are contesting from eight wards there. The two major political parties in the state, National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party, and CPI (M), have decided to boycott both the ULB and Panchayat polls in the wake of the controversy surrounding Article 35A.