At least 215 candidates have been elected uncontested in urban local body polls in the Kashmir region of Jammu and Kashmir, Rising Kashmir reported on Wednesday, quoting unidentified officials. The filing of nomination papers for the fourth phase of the elections ended on Wednesday. The four-phase polls for urban local bodies in the state will be held on October 8, 10, 13 and 16.

Besides the wards where candidates won uncontested, 177 of the 624 municipal wards in Kashmir did not have any candidate, officials told the newspaper. No one filed their nominations in most wards in South Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Shopian, Pulwama and Kulgam, the officials said. “Some candidates in the four districts who filed their nomination papers have been elected unopposed,” they said.

This left 715 candidates in the remaining 232 wards in the Kashmir region.

In the Jammu region, candidates filed nominations in each of the 534 wards – there were a total of 2,123 candidates in the region. In the Ladakh region, which comprises Kargil and Leh districts, 66 candidates filed nominations in 26 wards, officials told Rising Kashmir.

On Tuesday, The Hindu reported that the Bharatiya Janata Party claimed to have won in at least 60 wards unopposed in the Kashmir region and expects to cross 70 wards when the fourth phase details are announced. The party has fielded 325 candidates in the Valley region, the highest ever in the electoral history of the state.

“It is heartening that for the first time we have started winning wards in the urban local bodies in Kashmir,” said BJP spokesperson Altaf Thakur. “The edge is that we have started winning them in the hotbed of militancy in South Kashmir such as Kulgam, Pulwama and Anantnag.”

Four parties – the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Bahujan Samaj Party – have boycotted the urban local body and panchayat elections over concerns about the Centre’s stand on Article 35A of the Constitution, which grants special rights and privileges to the residents of the state.

The panchayat elections will be held in nine phases between November 17 and December 11. This is the first time the state will have local body elections since 2011.