Cold causes dull start to council polling in Kashmir
Severe morning cold Monday led to a dull start to polling for the two legislative council (LC) seats reserved for panchayats in the Valley.
The last time these elections were held was over 30 years ago, in 1980.
Jammu and Kashmir has a bicameral legislature. Four seats in the upper house, the legislative council, are reserved for panchayats.
Of these, two seats fall in Kashmir, while the other two are in Jammu.
Around 17,912 panches and sarpanches (village council members and chiefs) form the electoral college for the two legislative council seats in the valley.
"Polling started at 9 a.m. this morning at various polling stations across the valley for the elections today. The turnout of panches and sarpanches was low in the beginning because of the cold, but is likely to pick up as the day warms. The voting process will end at 5 p.m.," Asgar Hassan Samoon, Kashmir divisional commissioner, who is also the returning officer for these polls, told IANS.
Various block development offices across the valley have been designated polling stations for Monday's elections.
In all, 33,540 panches and sarpanches across the state are expected to vote at 149 polling stations to elect four legislative council members Monday.
In Kashmir, polling is taking place at 77 polling stations, of which 42 have been declared as sensitive, 11 hypersensitive and 24 normal, based on perceptions of threat from separatist guerrillas.
The ruling Congress-National Conference (NC) alliance is fighting these elections jointly, fielding four candidates, two from the Jammu region and two from the valley.
The main opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) also has fielded four candidates, two from each region of the state.
While Ali Muhammad Dar of the NC is contesting these elections from the valley, the Congress has fielded Ghulam Nabi Moonga.
The PDP has fielded Yasir Reshi and Peer Muhammad Hussain against the ruling alliance candidates in the Valley.
In all, across the state, 37 candidates are in the fray for Monday's polls.
Separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has asked people to boycott these polls.
The turnout of panches and sarpanches during these polls is being keenly watched because of the threats they have been receiving from separatist guerrillas to resign their positions as village representatives.