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Independents grab 363 wards, at 312 BJP emerges largest urban local force, Congress takes third spot with 267 seats

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Independent candidates (363) emerged as the single largest group in the four-phased Urban Local Bodies elections in the state, winning 185 wards in Jammu division and almost similar 178 in Kashmir, while the BJP (312) swept the Jammu division by winning 212 wards, and making some advances in Kashmir winning 100 wards, helping itself to emerge as the single largest party in the polls.

The Congress (267) finished third overall, by bagging 157 wards in Kashmir and 110 in Jammu, in the Municipal elections held after a gap of 13 long years, but marred by boycott by the NC and PDP.

The Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) elections were also won by BJP winning 43 of 75 seats, whereas Mayor for Srinagar city will be decided by Independents, who grabbed maximum 53 seats in the 74-member elections of the prestigious Srinagar Municipal Corporation.

The counting of votes in the civic polls was completed on Saturday.

In the Jammu region that includes the districts of Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Reasi, Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Udhampur, Poonch and Rajouri, the BJP candidates won 212 wards, followed by Independents at 185, the Congress 110, and National Panthers Party 13.

Independents topped the charts in Kashmir by winning 178 wards across 42 municipal bodies in Kashmir division, including Leh and Kargil, elections authorities said. The Congress was ahead of the BJP in the valley by bagging 157 wards, while saffron party won in 100 wards, they said.

Detailing the Kashmir Division, in Leh the Congress swept the polls winning all the 13 seats while in Kargil, the Congress won six and Independents seven wards.

In the prestigious Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC), the BJP won 43 seats in the 75-member house. The Congress suffered a big loss in the election, winning only 14 seats while independent candidates won 18 seats in the JMC.

The counting of votes in the winter capital started at a government polytechnic institute at 9 am. As the results started pouring in, BJP leaders and activists came out to celebrate party’s victory.

“This is the victory of the people and they have reposed their faith in us. We will continue to serve the people to the best of our ability,” BJP state chief Ravinder Raina said while leading the celebrations at party headquarters here.

In rest of the 446 wards spread across Jammu region covering a total of 36 municipal committees and councils, the BJP had an edge over its rivals in 15 bodies followed by Independents in 12 and the Congress in five, authorities said.

The BJP won a total of 169 seats in these bodies followed by independents at 167 and the Congress at 96, the officials said.

Deepak Gupta, the brother of senior BJP leader Kavinder Gupta, was among the prominent candidates who lost the elections. However, Rajinder Singh alias Bubby, the brother of senior BJP leader Choudhary Lal Singh, and his wife Vandina Andotra won as independents from Kathua municipal council.

Bubby was in the centre of a controversy in May when a video of him went viral on social media in which he was purportedly abusing former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti during a ‘Dogra Swabhiman rally.

The rally was led by the former minister in support of a demand for a CBI probe into the Kathua rape and murder case. An FIR was registered against Bubby who was later arrested from Rajasthan’s Udaipur in June after evading arrest for nearly a month.

In the seven municipal committees of Jammu, the BJP won Akhnoor with 11 seats, while two seats went to Congress. In Bishnah, the BJP won six seats against seven by Independents.

In Arnia, the BJP won seven seats, independents five and Congress one, in R S Pura BJP won nine, Independents three and Congress one, in Ghmanhansan won BJP two, Congress-two, in Khour won BJP nine and Congress four and in Jourian BJP won two, Congress four and independent one, the officials said.

Elections authorities attributed the emergence of independents as a strong force in view of the absence of the NC and the PDP, the key regional parties.

The election in a ward in Ramban was countermanded due to the death of a BJP candidate who suffered a heart attack on the day of polling in the second phase on October 10.

In SMC, independents bagged the 53 seats in the 74-member body, Congress won 16 seats and the BJP won in four wards.

While the BJP emerged as the single largest party in 12 municipal bodies, it has majority in five of these bodies. The Congress was the single largest party in 15 bodies, having majority in 11 of them, they said.
Junaid Azim Mattu, who resigned from NC to contest the elections, was among the prominent winners. He had contested from four wards and won from three.

The BJP, which had won the Ladakh constituency in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, got a drubbing from the Congress in Leh and Kargil civic bodies. The saffron party failed to open its account in the two bodies while Congress bagged all 13 seats in Leh and six seats in Kargil.

The boycott call by separatists, coupled with threats by militants, and non-participation of the National Conference and the PDP, helped both the BJP and the Congress in a major way as 76 and 78 candidates from the respective national parties were elected unopposed.

The election in the 521 municipal wards in the 10 districts of Jammu was held in the first three phases of the elections in the state, which concluded on October 16, recording a high voter turnout of 68.4 per cent among the over 6.44 lakh electorate.

Thirteen candidates were elected to different municipal wards unopposed, leaving a total of 2,137 candidates in the fray.

The JMC along with seven municipal committees of Jammu went to polls in the first phase on October 8, registering a turnout of 63.8 per cent.

The counting of votes in the winter capital started at a government polytechnic institute at 9 am. As the results started pouring in, BJP leaders and activists came out to celebrate party’s victory.

The Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) failed to open its account in the majority of the wards, including the JMC.

Party chairman and former minister Harsh Dev Singh alleged rigging and claimed, “It is not the BJP but electronic voting machine (EVM) which won the election for the party.”

In the seven municipal committees of Jammu, the BJP won Akhnoor with 11 seats, while two seats went to Congress. In Bishnah, the BJP won six seats against seven by Independents.