J-K polls: Campaigning for 3rd phase ends

J-K polls: Campaigning for 3rd phase ends

Campaigning for the third phase of polling in Jammu and Kashmir came to an end today with the militant attack in Uri, which is one of the 16 Valley seats going to polls on Tuesday, casting a shadow on the elections which saw a record over 70 per cent turnout in the first two stages.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, his three cabinet colleagues and 10 other sitting MLAs are among the 144 candidates in the fray with stakes high for Peoples Democratic Party which held nine of the 16 seats going to polls.

More than 13.69 lakh voters are eligible to cast their votes for seven assembly seats in Baramulla district including Uri, five assembly segments in Budgam district and four in Pulwama district of the Valley.

Eleven security force personnel were killed while six militants were also eliminated on Friday when militants also hurled a grenade in south Kashmir Tral constituency leaving two persons dead and 10 others injured.

Security arrangements in all the three districts, where voting will be held, have been strengthened in view of the Friday's deadly attack while election authorities have established 1,781 polling stations in the area.

Senior leaders of all major political parties campaigned for their candidates. Among the prominent campaigners were Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, his predecessors Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain.

Omar, who chose to contest from Beerwah assembly segment in Budgam district instead of his family bastion of Ganderbal, will be hoping that some of the recent steps taken by his government for the area will help him sail through from a constituency which was won by PDP candidates in the last two elections.

Omar's bid for a second term in the assembly will face a stiff challenge from incumbent MLA and PDP leader Mohammad Shafi Wani and Congress contender Nazir Ahmad Khan, whose father Sarfaraz Khan had won from Beerwah in 2002 elections as a PDP candidate.

More than Omar, the third phase of election is important for the PDP as it represents nine of the 16 constituencies while National Conference holds only four seats.
While the PDP has given mandate to six sitting MLAs including Wani, it has fielded fresh faces in the other three constituencies.

Imran Ansari was shifted from Zadibal constituency in Srinagar to Pattan constituency in Baramulla district following the death of his father and sitting MLA Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari.

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