"Not a bird was harmed" and the civic elections were conducted peacefully, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik said today.
Soon after the conclusion of the urban local body polls' final phase, in an exclusive interview to PTI, Mr Malik said the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) should not have boycotted it and asserted that articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution were non-issues.
Elections to 79 municipal bodies in the state were held in four phases starting on October 8 and ended today.
Expressing satisfaction over the peaceful conduct of the polls, Mr Malik said, "It (the response) has been very good. The four-phased elections has been concluded and not a bird was harmed, it was a peaceful election."
"Today (Tuesday), Srinagar saw 9,578 votes being cast. Ganderbal saw 1,000 votes. The turnout is better than some recent elections," he said.
Asked if the polls could have been conducted any better in view of the low voter turnout in Kashmir, Mr Malik said, "This was the best... I congratulate the administration, police and the people that they came out without fear to participate in the polls.
"The disappointment is that the political parties should not have boycotted. They should have participated in the elections... There was no benefit for (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi or me ... They should have allowed the people to vote. This is a posturing for assembly elections," he said.
Mr Malik attributed the low voter turnout to several factors.
"Two parties boycotted, Hurriyat had called for boycott, there were militant threats and also non-issues were made into issues like (Article) 35-A and (Article) 370. These were the reasons that turnout was little less but I want to tell you that Muslim areas like Rajouri, Poonch and Uri saw 70 to 80 per cent voter turnout," he said.
Asked if the administration had any plans to woo the people back to the democratic process for polls next month, Mr Malik said, "I will again appeal to the people to take part in the panchayat elections because every panchayat will get a crore of rupees. How much loss is that for the development? These elections are not party based."
"They (the NC and the PDP) can field even proxy candidates. If the number of candidates is high, the possibility of violence will be low," he said.
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