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Pol parties do not expect turnout to improve

Srinagar, Oct 12: Political parties expect the turnout to continue to be dismal in Kashmir Valley in the remaining phases of the ongoing municipal election.
The ongoing 4-phase municipal polls began on October 8. So far, two phases have completed, while the elections of remaining two phases would be held on October 13 and 16.
In the first two phases, people preferred to boycott the polls in response to the call given by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL).
In the first phase of municipal polls on October 8, only 8.3 percent of the electorate cast their vote. While in the 2nd phase, only 3.4 percent people cast their vote.
In the next two phases, the political parties do not expect much change in the voters participation.
Peoples Democratic Party chief spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir said his party boycotted the polls on the grounds that situation was not “conducive” for the polls.
“Killings have increased in the last two years. The political situation has grimed over Article 35A issue. Government shall have taken all political parties on the board before announcing holding municipal polls,” Mir said.
In the next two phases, he believes that voter turnout will almost be similar. “Voter turn has been three percent and is almost negligible and will be almost similar in next phases,” he said.
Sharing similar views, National Conference General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said that his party boycotted the polls as people have been angry over the Article 35A and Article 370 issue. “Who will come out to vote under the present circumstances,” Sagar said, who too believes people will prefer to stay away from polls in the next two phases also.
The NC and PDP have announced to boycott the panchayat and ULB polls in the state unless the Centre clarifies its position on Article 35A of the Constitution, which is facing legal challenge in the Supreme Court.
BJP spokesperson Altaf Thakur blames the PDP, NC, and Hurriyat for voter turnout. “There may be bit increase in voter turn in next two phases. People have been made hostile not to cast their vote,” he said.
A Congress leader said his party does not see much difference in the voter turnout in the final two phases.
“The situation is not favourable, yet we participated in polls to keep BJP and RSS away from Kashmir,” the Congress leader said, wishing anonymity.
The Congress has also accused the Centre and the erstwhile BJP-PDP government of “spoiling” the atmosphere in the state and held them responsible for the current situation.