Sluggish voting in 11th phase of Kashmir panchayat polls

May 25th, 2011 - 2:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Srinagar, May 25 (IANS) Polling started peacefully across Jammu and Kashmir Wednesday morning for the 11th phase of the panchayat elections, though the voter turnout was low in north and south Kashmir blocks, officials said.

Four blocks of Pulwama, Qazigund, Zaingeer and Bandipora in the Kashmir Valley and six blocks of Drabshalla, Marmat, Ramsoo, Bhalwal, Surankote and Bafliaz in the Jammu region are voting in this round.

Voting started on a dull note in south Kashmir’s Pulwama and north Kashmir’s Zaingeer blocks.

“We expect the pace of voting to pick up as the day progresses,” a senior poll official said here.

Till around 12 noon, 16 percent of eligible electors had cast their votes in Bandipora block. The voter turnout in Qazigund was 18 percent, while Pulwama recorded just 3 percent and Zaingeer 7 percent voting.

The previous phases have witnessed nearly 80 percent voting.

Voting started at 8 a.m. and will conclude at 2 p.m., after which votes will be counted at the polling stations and results declared in presence of the candidates.

Since the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act does not permit the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in these elections, ballot boxes and paper ballots have been used.

Massive participation during the last 10 phases proved the determination of the people to engage actively with self-governance at the grassroots level.

Although these elections are held on a non-party basis, the political affiliations of the contesting candidates are well known to the voters.

Besides personal standing, political affiliations are believed to play a crucial role in deciding the fate of the candidates.

The elections are being held after a gap of 10 years. The elections were postponed earlier due to the highly volatile law and order situation in the state.

United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who visited the Jammu region Monday, said the massive participation of the people in these elections was a powerful message for those who opposed holding of such elections in the state.

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