Continuing the trend of low voter turnout, only 1.8 per cent of electorate cast their votes in the first four hours of polling in Kashmir during the fourth and final phase of urban bodies elections Tuesday, officials said.
In Srinagar Municipal Corporation, only 3,997 of the 2.42 lakh voters cast their votes in 24 wards so far, the officials said.
They said the turnout was better in Ganderbal where 6.2 per cent of the 8,908 voters exercised their franchise during the same period.
Polling began at 6 am amidst stringent security arrangements at 308 polling stations in the twin districts of Srinagar and Ganderbal. It would end at 4 pm.
Eight municipal bodies across six districts in Kashmir valley were scheduled to go to polls in this phase of the elections. However, out of the eight, there was a contest only only in two bodies.
In the rest — Pattan in Baramulla district of north Kashmir, Pampore, Pulwama and Khrew in Pulwama district in south, Shopian Municipal Committee in Shopian district in south and Dooru Verinag in Anantnag district also in south Kashmir — the candidates either won unopposed or no nominations were submitted.
The officials said 151 candidates were in the fray for 36 wards of two urban local bodies for the fourth phase.
They said 12 wards were going to polls in Municipal Committee Ganderbal with a total electorate 8,491 voters where 38 candidates were in the fray and voting will take place at 12 polling stations.
For 24 wards of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) with a total electorate of 24,1043, 113 candidates are in the fray and 295 polling stations have been established for the purpose, the officials said.
However, repolling is also taking place at Polling Station number nine – Bachidarwaza of Makhdoom Sahab (ward number 41) – where five candidates are in the fray with a total electorate of 1260.
The officials said massive security arrangements have been put in place for the smooth conduct of the polls.
Municipal elections, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh, are being held in four phases.
A total of 3,372 nominations were filed for 1,145 wards. The National Conference, along with the PDP and the CPI(M), had boycotted the polls due to the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.
The voter turnout in the first three phases of the civic polls in the valley was low. While 8.3 per cent of the electorate turned up to vote in the 83 wards in the first phase on October 8, the poll percentage fell to an abysmal 3.4 per cent in the second phase held on 10 October.
The third phase of polling for civic bodies in Kashmir October 13 also witnessed a low turnout of just 3.49 per cent, in line with the trend set in first two phases.
The government had declared a holiday in the municipal areas going to polls so as to enable the voters to exercise their franchise.