Srinagar: Independents stole the show winning 217 out of 307 constituencies in the first ever Block Development Council (BDC) elections that recorded 98.3 percent turnout on Thursday.
The BJP, which was riding high on the recent constitutional changes, could only manage to win 81 blocks. Interestingly, the party could win only 52 out of 148 blocks in its traditional bastion of Jammu.
Of all the districts, Srinagar witnessed 100 per cent voter turnout while Pulwama and Shopian districts witnessed lowest voter turnout of 86 and 85 per cent respectively. Of the 316 blocks, elections were held in 307 blocks. Of the 307 blocks, 27 candidates were elected unopposed.
Despite BDC elections being held on party basis, independent candidates swept the polls winning 217 blocks — 109 in Kashmir, 88 in Jammu and 20 in Ladakh.
Of all participating political parties, BJP got the highest number of seats. BJP won 81 seats- 18 in Kashmir, 52 in Jammu and 11 in Ladakh.
Interestingly, the saffron party won maximum seats from restive Shopian district where its candidates emerged victorious in eight blocks. In Jammu division, BJP won maximum seats from Jammu and Kathua districts. JKNPP stood second winning eight blocks in Jammu division, while BSP failed to open its account.
Congress, which had announced boycott of the polls, won a seat in Pulwama district. National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party had not participated in the polls in protest against Centre’s move to abrogate article 370 and detention of their leaders.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar said the election was held peacefully amid through there were reports of “violence” from Kupwara district.
On boycott of polls by two main political parties, Kumar said his office did not receive any written communication from these parties.
“There was no written communication by NC or either PDP. We approached a political party but they set a condition of releasing their leaders for participation. Another party said they will consult their leaders,” Kumar said.
At least 1065 candidates were in fray for 310 blocks. The elections were held at a time when 61 per cent of Panch and Sarpanch berths are lying vacant.