Campaigning ends for second phase polls

Campaigning ends for second phase polls

Curtains came down on Sunday evening on the high voltage campaigning for 18 Assembly segments of Jammu and Kashmir which will see the second of the five-phased polls on December 2.

After a record turnout of 71.28 per cent in the first phase of polling, campaign fever had heightened in this leg with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and several important national leaders addressing election rallies across the state.

Several high-profile candidates, including separatist-turned-mainstream leader Sajad Lone and four state ministers, are trying their luck in the second phase. Of the 18 seats going to the polls on Tuesday, ruling National Conference had won six in 2008 elections, opposition PDP four, Congress three, JKNPP two while BJP, CPI (M) and independents had won one each.

Sources told Deccan Herald that security has been tightened across the state in the wake of recent militant attacks, including the one in Arnia on International Border, in which 11 people, including three soldiers, were killed.

The Assembly segments going to the polls in the second phase include five each in north and south Kashmir and six in Jammu region.

Being the last day of canvassing on Sunday, bigwigs and candidates of the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress and Peoples Conference left no stone unturned to woo the voters.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and opposition Peoples Democratic Party patron Mufti Muhammad held a series of rallies.

While terming PDP a ‘property developer party’, Omar alleged that all turncoats, corruption-tainted persons and unscrupulous elements have camped in the party to make fortunes at the cost of the people’s interest.

Mufti in his speeches said Jammu and Kashmir is poised for a positive turn as the movement for change is gaining ground in every nook and corner of the state. He also targeted BJP for “pushing Jammu and Kashmir towards dangerous polarisation for electoral gains.”

The Congress did not spare its ally National Conference during the electioneering. Rahul Gandhi trained guns on the NC blaming his one-time close friend Omar Abdullah for poor performance during the six-year government in the state while claiming that his party did its best to ensure implementation of programmes aimed at public welfare.

The BJP was equally harsh on both PDP and NC, saying “there is contract between the two to loot the state”.

Polling dates include December 9 (third phase), December 14 (fourth phase) and December 20 (last phase). Counting of votes will be held on December 23.

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