Srinagar: Polling is underway for the fourth and last phase of municipal elections in Jammu and Kashmir to seal the fate of 156 candidates in fray in Srinagar and Ganderbal districts.

The polling began at 6 am amidst stringent security arrangements, officials said.

The voting will take place at 308 polling stations across the state and would end at 4 pm.

Eight municipal bodies spanning across six districts - all in Kashmir Valley were scheduled to go to polls in the fourth and final phase of the elections. However, out of the eight, only two will see voting, while there will be no contest in the rest of the six bodies.

The rest of the bodies Pattan in Baramulla district of north Kashmir, Pampore, Pulwama and Khrew in Pulwama district in the south, Shopian Municipal Committee in Shopian district in the south and Dooru Verinag in Anantnag district also in south Kashmir will see no voting either because the candidates won unopposed or no nominations were submitted.

The officials said 156 candidates are in the fray for 37 wards of two urban local bodies for the fourth phase comprising a total electorate of 250794 electors. 

12 wards are going to polls in Municipal Committee Ganderbal with a total electorate of 8,491 voters where 38 candidates are in the fray and voting will take place at 12 polling stations.

For 24 wards of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) with a total electorate of 2,41,043, 113 candidates are in the fray and 295 polling stations have been established for the purpose, the officials said.

Officials said that a repoll is taking place at polling station number nine - Bachidarwaza of Makhdoom Sahab (ward number 41) - where five candidates are in the fray with a total electorate of 1,260.

The officials said massive security arrangements have been put in place for the smooth conduct of the polls.

Municipal elections, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh, are being held in four phases. A total of 3,372 nominations have been filed for 1,145 wards.

National Conference, along with PDP and CPI(M), has boycotted the polls due to the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.

The voter turnout in the first two phases of the civic polls in the valley has been low.
The cumulative vote percentage in three phases till date dropped further down to 41.9% with 68.4% voting recorded in Jammu division and 6.7% in Kashmir. This decline in poll percentage is expected in the fourth phase as the wards undergoing polls in the last phase are from the terror-hit areas of Kashmir.

The government has declared a holiday on the day of poll in the municipal areas going to polls so as to enable the voters to cast their vote.

The result of the polls will be declared on October 20, 2018.

With agency inputs