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3.49% turnout in Valley, Samba records 82% voting in phase-3 of J-K civic polls

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Srinagar/Jammu| Just 3.49 per cent of the electorate voted in the third phase of the urban local body polls in militancy-hit Kashmir Valley, while a high turnout of 82 per cent was recorded in Jammu’s Samba district, officials said on Saturday.

The frontier town of Uri in Baramulla district recorded a 75.34 per cent turnout, bucking the trend in the Valley, which has witnessed low polling in the first two of the four-phase elections after boycott calls from parties like the NC, the PDP and the CPI (M).

In the 20 wards of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) that went to polls in the third phase, only 1.84 per cent of the 1.53 lakh eligible voters exercised their franchise, the election officials said.

Safakadal, a ward in the city’s old town, and Chanapora, in the Civil Lines, polled less than 10 votes each. The polling, which began at 6 am and ended at 4 pm, saw 11 SMC wards recording less than 100 votes.

They said in Uri, 75.34 per cent of the 3,552 voters cast their votes, while in the Mattan Municipal Committee of Anantnag district, the only town in India other than Konark to have a Sun Temple, witnessed a turnout of 2.81 per cent.

Brisk polling was witnessed in Uri with people lining up outside polling booths much before 6.00 am, the officials said.

Of the 3,552 eligible voters, 2,676 turned up to exercise their franchise at the Uri Municipal Committee’s 13 wards. There are 31 candidates in the fray.

People of the town traditionally turnout in large numbers in elections and in this poll, it has the highest turnout in the Valley. In the 2014 Jammu and Kashmir elections, Uri constituency saw 82.94 per cent voting and in 2008, 82.07 per cent.

The officials said in Sheerpora ward of the Anantnag Municipal Council, where election authorities had ordered a repoll, only 1.39 per cent of the 2,643 exercised their franchise.

Though 151 wards were to go to polls in the third phase in the Valley, voting was held only in 40 wards. Forty-nine wards were won uncontested and no nominations filed for 62 wards.

The first phase of the polls in the Kashmir Valley saw 8.3 per cent turnout on October 8 while only 3.4 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise in the second phase held two days later.

There are 365 candidates in the fray for 96 wards of eight urban local bodies for the third phase comprising a total electorate of 1,93,990 electors.

In Jammu’s Samba district, of the 31,878 voters, 82 per cent exercised their franchise in the third phase, a repeat of the high voter turnout recorded in the first two phases in the region.

“The voting concluded in a peaceful manner with about 82 per cent voters registering their choice at 57 polling stations set up across the district, District Election Officer, Samba, Sushma Chauhan, told PTI.

Voters thronged polling stations across the district to choose their representatives for four municipal committees — Samba, Ramgarh, Vijaypur and Bari-Brahmana.

She said Bari-Brahmana recorded a high 87 per cent turnout, followed by Vijaypur (85 per cent), Ramgarh (83 per cent) and Samba (78.8 per cent).

Today’s polling in Samba completed the elections in all the 10 districts of the Jammu region.

The first phase of the polls covering three districts of Jammu, Poonch and Rajouri on October 8 recorded 65 per cent voter turnout. In the second phase, on October 10, Kathua, Udhampur, Ramban, Doda, Reasi and Kishtwar districts witnessed 78.6 per cent polling.

Chauhan said adequate security personnel were deployed for maintaining law and order, and observers, zonal and sectoral officers are monitoring the polls to ensure free and fair elections.

The fourth phase on Tuesday will be held in six districts of the Kashmir valley.

Municipal elections are being held, amid tight security, after a gap of 13 years in four phases, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh electors across the state.

The officials said 3,372 nominations have been filed for 1145 wards. The counting of votes will be held on October 20.

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 National Conference (NC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the CPI(M) have boycotted the polls due to the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.

Politics

Court takes cognisance of defamation plea against Shashi Tharoor for remark against PM Modi

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Tharoor

New Delhi | A Delhi court on Friday took cognisance of a criminal defamation complaint filed against Congress leader Shashi Tharoor for his alleged “scorpion” remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal fixed December 22 for recording the statement of the complainant, Delhi BJP leader Rajeev Babbar. The complaint alleged that Tharoor, with “mala fide intention, made the statement which is not only abuse of the Hindu deity but also defamatory”.

In his complaint, Babbar said being a vice-president of the BJP’s Delhi unit, he was “identified as a worker/supporter of Narendra Modi and BJP” and that Tharoor’s statement hurt his religious sentiment.  The complaint termed the statement “intolerable abuse” and “absolute vilification” of the faith of the people.

Tharoor stoked a controversy last month while speaking at the Bangalore Literature Festival, claiming that an unnamed RSS leader had compared Modi to “a scorpion sitting on a Shivling”. The complaint has been filed under sections 499 and 500 of IPC relating to defamation. If convicted, Tharoor may face a maximum punishment of two years in jail.

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Uttar Pradesh: Thakur leader Raja Bhaiya launched new political party

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Raja Bhaiya

Lucknow | Six-time MLA and Thakur community Raghunath Pratap Singh on Friday announced the launch of his new political party called ‘Jan Satta Party’.

Addressing the media during the launch Singh said,”I have completed 25 years in politics, have been an Independent politician and MLA, so now have decided to form a political party.” He further added that he has approached Election Commision for registration.

Popularly known by the name Raja Bhaiya, Singh is currently an MLA from Kunda in Uttar Pradesh. He was a cabinet minister of Food and Civil Supplies Department during the Samajwadi Party government. He has also served as a minister in the cabinet of Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh’s government.

According to political pundits, the formation of a new political party by Raja Bhaiya is an attempt to influence the upper caste of voters in Uttar Pradesh which will indirectly help the BJP in the upcoming elections against the possible SP-BSP alliance. Earlier a close aide of the Samajwadi party, Raja Bhaiya in the last Rajya Sabha elections voted for the BJP candidate. He clearly stated that he won’t be voting in favour of the BSP candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls due to his differences with BSP supremo Mayawati.

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Afridi’s comments on Kashmir endorsed by Pakistan citizens: Shiv Sena

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Mumbai | The Shiv Sena Friday latched on to former Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi’s remarks that his country “does not want Kashmir” and said all sane Pakistanis would endorse the view.

The Sena, in an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, said Pakistan’s government and military chief gave more impetus on trying to harm India than governing the country as a result of which it has to seek external financial aid even 70 years after Independence.

In a video that has gone viral, Afridi is heard saying, “I believe that Pakistan does not want Kashmir, and India too should not be given the state. Kashmir should be an independent country.” He went on add that “humanity” or “insaniyat” should be prioritised.

In a swipe at the affairs of his own country battling financial woes and sectarian strife, the Pakistani all-rounder added, “Pakistan can’t handle its four provinces”. Afridi, while speaking on the matter later, however, has blamed the Indian media for quoting him out of context. Making a U-turn, Afridi has now said that “Kashmir belongs to Pakistan”.

The Sena’s editorial Friday stated, “Pakistan has become so poor in trying to support terrorism and corruption that it now is left with only the option of selling cattle and vehicles from the Prime Minister’s residence.”  It claimed that Pakistan was on the verge of a financial breakdown and it had been relegated to begging for a bailout from countries like China, after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) turned down its aid request.

“If the country needs financial oxygen to keep its economy going, alive, how will it take care of Kashmir? Not just Afridi, every sane Pakistani will hold the same view. However, who asks the common man there?” the editorial questioned. “The government and the military chief there give more impetus on harming India than doing good for its people. Therefore, they have to beg for aid even 70 years after Independence,” it said.

The Sena further dubbed Afridi as “anti-Indian” and said he has, in the past, made derogatory statements against India. Citing examples, it said Afridi had shown a soft corner for 13 terrorists eliminated by Indian security forces, and has been repeatedly advocating Independence for Kashmir.

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