In a significant departure from previous elections in Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the Valley after the abrogation of Article 370, more than 98% voting was recorded in the Block Development Council polls in the state with Srinagar registering a record turnout of 100%.
The Block Development Council elections were the first elections to be held after Jammu and Kashmir were stripped of its special status by the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcated into Union Territories. The elections were held on Thursday.
Shailender Kumar, the CEO of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Election Commissioner said the elections were held in 280 blocks out of a total of 316 in the state. The candidates in at least 27 blocks won unopposed, Kumar said in a press conference.
“As per the reports, the total voting percentage was 98.3%. Highest voting was done in Srinagar dist – 100%, the lowest was in Pulwama & Shopian – 86% and 85% respectively,” said Shailendra Singh.
Reportedly, the elections were boycotted by the Congress, the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party. Out of the 128 winning candidates in the Kashmir region, 109 were independents, 18 belonged to the BJP and one from the Congress. In Ladakh, the BJP won 11 seats, while independent candidates securing victory in 20. In Jannu region, BJP won 81 seats.
Block development councils form the second-tier of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati raj system. The council chairman are elected by an electoral college formed by panchs and sarpanchs in their respective blocks. These councils were never formed before as the Jammu and Kashmir historically had a weak Panchayati raj system.