Amid tight security, the polling for the first phase of the District Development Council( DDC) election began on Saturday in Jammu and Kashmir.
The DDC polls are being held in the Union territory for the first time.
The eighth and the last phase of the election will end on December 19 and the results would be announced on December 22.
A total of 280 seats are up for grabs, 14 each in every district, in 20 districts of the UT.
In the first phase, 296 candidates are competing for 43 seats.
Voter response was more than satisfactory at many places including Fakeer Gujari, 20km from Srinagar, where a polling station has been established in the government boys secondary school. Notable among the voters at Fakeer Gujari was 95-year-old Laytha Kohli.
Despite a biting cold, a good number of voters were present at the polling station to cast their ballot.
The DDC election has become a direct contest between the BJP and People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration. The alliance comprises seven regional parties: NC, PDP, CPI(M), JK People’s Conference, JK People’s Movement, JK Awami National Conference and Awami Itehad. The alliance seeks the restoration of Article 370 and statehood for Jammu and Kashmir.
The Congress, which is a signatory to Gupkar Declaration, has not formally joined the alliance. The party, however, had a tacit understanding with the alliance .
The DDC polls are the first major political exercise to kick start political process in Jammu and Kashmir.
Reports from other parts of Kashmir and Jammu said voter response was impressive.