Bharatiya Janata Party candidates are pitted against expelled saffron party leaders in several wards of the Jammu Municipal Corporation and councils going to the polls tomorrow in first phase of the civic elections.
As many as 28 expelled BJP activists charged with anti-party activities have turned out to be strong contenders in various wards and are giving a tough fight to BJP contestants.
Fifteen workers were expelled on October 3 followed by seven and six more on October 5 and 6 for “anti-party activities”. BJP state president Ravinder Raina on Saturday said, “After finding out that they were contesting as Independents, the party took a firm decision to expel them. More are under the scanner and action will be taken against them after the elections.”
However, sources term it as a ‘well executed plan’ of the party to manage its supremacy in the elections. “The expelled members contesting as Independents have the support of the BJP and will be brought back into the party fold after their win,” said the sources.
A senior BJP leader requesting anonymity divulged that the party hopes to gain either ways whether the voter chooses the party candidate or the candidate ‘ditched’ by the party.
As the campaigning for the first phase of urban local bodies elections ended on Sunday morning, 6,11,244 voters will decide the fate of 1,283 candidates contesting the elections for 422 wards — spread over a dozen districts — on Monday.
The last urban local bodies elections were held through the paper ballot in 2005. For the first time, electronic voting machines will be used in the urban local bodies elections in the state.
Unlike the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, the campaigning for the urban local bodies polls ended 24 hours before the start of voting at 7 am on Monday.
Keeping in view the terror threats, adequate security arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of the elections across the state.
“We have made elaborate security arrangements, especially in the sensitive areas of Poonch and Rajouri districts, as well in the border belts of Jammu,” Inspector General of Police (IGP), Jammu, SD Singh told Kashmir Post.
The IGP said the campaign for the first phase was peaceful and there was no report of any untoward incident.
Till 7 am on Sunday, the deadline for the campaign, candidates made every effort to convince the voters in high-pitch canvassing which began 15 days ago with the filing of nominations.
Although the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party have boycotted the polls, the boycott call has failed to dampen the spirit of campaigning even in Muslim-majority border districts of Poonch and Rajouri, where 297 candidates are in the fray in 83 wards.
The boycott call was given to ‘protect’ Article 35A whose constitutional validity has been challenged in the Supreme Court. Toeing the line of the two regional parties, the CPM has also boycotted the elections.
The Bahujan Samaj Party has also announced the boycott due to the deteriorating security scenario in the state in general and the Kashmir valley in particular.
As many as 78 candidates have already been elected unopposed for the first phase of the four-phase elections.
Not only in the militancy-plagued areas of south Kashmir, some candidates have also been elected unopposed from otherwise peaceful areas of Arnia of Jammu (one), Nowshera (one) and Thanamandi of Rajouri (three) and Surankot of Poonch (four).
Polls in 422 wards
15 civic bodies of the Jammu province, including the Jammu Municipal Corporation, has 247 wards, 4,83,831 voters and 1,010 candidates
The Leh and Kargil municipal have 26 wards, 20,225 voters and 66 candidates
13 civic bodies of Kashmir, including Srinagar Municipal Corporation, has 149 wards, 1,07,188 voters and 207 candidates
NC, PDP fielding proxy candidates: Jitendra
Doda: Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in PMO, on Sunday accused two mainstream political parties in the state of fielding proxy candidates for the urban local bodies elections. He stated this while referring to the NC and the PDP, which have boycotted the elections. Jitendra was in Doda to interact with BJP candidates contesting the polls. He said, “The political parties boycotting the elections have fielded proxy candidates instead of fighting direct elections with us. They are not against the elections, but they have no guts to contest direct elections with us.” On the allegations of Shameema Firdous, NC MLA, over the recent killing of two NC workers, the minister said, “On the one hand, they have boycotted the elections, but on the other, they are also fielding proxy candidates. If they had followed proper procedure, security would have been provided to them and such incidents could be averted.”