Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday attributed the high voter turnout in the Jammu and Kashmir block development council elections to the Centre’s decision to revoke the state’s special constitutional status.
The elections held on Thursday were the first since the revocation of Article 370 in August. They took place amid heightened security. The turnout was 99.37% in Udhampur, 99.55% in Samba, 99.70% in Reasi, 99.38% in Kathua, 99.48% in Kishtwar, 99.58% in Doda, 99.4% in Rajouri and 99.5% in Jammu. Eleven of the 20 blocks – Akhnoor, Arnia, Chowki Choura, Kharah Balli, Khour, Maira Mandrian, Mathwar, Miran Sahib, Nagrota, Pargwal and RS Pura – in Jammu district recorded 100% turnout.
“It would make India’s Parliament proud that due to their historic decision in August this year, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been able to exercise their democratic right with exceptional enthusiasm, as seen in the historic turnout of 98%, that too without violence or disturbance,” Modi tweeted. The prime minister said it showed the “unwavering faith in democracy” of the state’s residents and the importance they gave to governance at the grassroot-level.
Modi congratulated MPs across party lines for supporting the decision to scrap the region’s special status. “Thanks to the decisions of the Indian Parliament, young and dynamic representatives will shape the destiny of the people of all regions of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
He also congratulated the leaders who had won the local council elections in Jammu, Kashmir, Leh, and Ladakh. Out of the 1,092 candidates, 853 were Independents.
The voters comprised all the 23,629 panches and 3,652 sarpanches of the panchayats in the state who were elected in last year’s elections. Out of 316 seats, polls were held for 307, out of which 27 candidates won uncontested. Independent candidates took 217 seats and the BJP won 81.
Several major parties in the state, including the Congress, the National Conference, and the People’s Democratic Party, had boycotted the elections. A number of the Valley’s political leaders, apart from BJP leaders, are also behind bars, including three former chief ministers – the National Conference’s Farooq and Omar Abdullah and the Peoples Democratic Party’s Mehbooba Mufti.
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