Stage set for counting of votes today

Stage set for counting of votes today

Thousands of electronic voting machines will be unsealed on Tuesday to know people’s verdict in Jammu & Kashmir Assembly elections held over five phases from November 24 to December 20.

The stage is now set for counting of votes with elaborate security arrangements in place at all district headquarters. Counting would begin at 8 am and the first trends would emerge within an hour.

Out of the 87 Assembly constituencies in the state, 46 segments are in Kashmir, 37 in Jammu and four in Ladakh region. Sources told Deccan Herald that the EVMs have been kept in the high security strong rooms at the district headquarters and are guarded by the paramilitary deployed in large numbers.
They said candidates and one of their agents will be allowed to observe the counting process.

 “Counting of votes of eight Assembly segments in Srinagar, which went to polls in the fourth phase of polling on December 14, will be held at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Complex in Srinagar. Counting of other constituencies will be held at various district headquarters,” they added.

Officials said no media persons will be allowed inside the counting halls according to the direction of the Supreme Court, but the press and electronic contingent have been provided a fully-equipped media centre with broadband internet, telephone and fax outside the counting halls.

The counting would reveal the fate of several candidates whose fates have been sealed with the EVMs at the end of the polling process.

Prominent among them include outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, outgoing Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, speaker of the outgoing Assembly Mubarak Gul, separatist-turned-mainstream-politician and chief of Peoples Conference Sajjad Lone and dozens of outgoing ministers, former ministers and senior functionaries of different political parties.

Most pollsters and political observers forecast a hung 12th Assembly in the state with no party capturing two-third majority on their own.

The Election Commission started the electoral process on October 26 despite opposition from Chief Minister Omar Abdullah that he expects low voter turnout in the wake of the devastating floods in September.

However, polling for the 15 constituencies in the first phase on November 24 saw a surprisingly high turnout of 71 per cent. The lowest turnout was scene in the eight constituencies of Srinagar district that recorded 28 per cent polling during the fourth phase.

Calling the overall voter turnout of 66 per cent ‘historic and unprecedented’, the Election Commission said the figure was four per cent higher than the turnout in the last Assembly polls of 2008. As many as 10,015 polling booths were set up for facilitating 77.25 lakh voters to exercise their franchise during the month-long poll process that decided the fortunes of 821 candidates.

Omar rules out post-poll alliance with BJP

 “The BJP went silent on Article 370  but has not dissociated from its stand on it, it has not dissociated from Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid issue,it has not dissociated from Common (Uniform) Civil Code. These are issues NC will find very difficult to reconcile itself to, should the BJP require support. I don’t see a situation like that emerging.”

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