Polling begins for first phase of J-K and Jharkhand elections

Polling begins for first phase of J-K and Jharkhand elections

Polling begins for first phase of J-K and Jharkhand elections

Voting began on a brisk note today in 15 constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir going to polls in first of the five-phased state elections.

Braving cold weather, voters today lined up at polling stations much before the start of the voting.

Twelve sitting MLAs, including seven ministers, are among 123 candidates trying their luck in the 15 constituencies that are going to polls in all three regions of the state.

While six constituencies in Jammu division will vote to elect their representatives, electorate in five segments in Kashmir and four in Ladakh will decide the political fortunes of the aspirants in the polling.

The Assembly segments going to polls include Kishtwar, Inderwal, Doda, Bhaderwah, Ramban and Banihal (in Jammu division); Gurez, Bandipora, Sonawari, Kangan and Ganderbal (in Kashmir), Nobra, Leh, Kargil and Zanskar (in Ladakh).

A total of 10,502,50 voters, including 5,49,698 males and 5,00,539 females, besides 13 transgenders are eligible to exercise their right to franchise in the first phase of the polls.

Bhaderwah has the largest number of 1,04,354 voters among the 15 constituencies, while Nobra constituency in Ladakh region has the lowest number with 13,054 voters.
Nearly 1900 polling stations have been set-up by the election authorities in these 15 constituencies.

While Bandipora, Ganderbal and Bhaderwah have the highest number of candidates, 13 each, in fray, Leh has the lowest number of candidates with a direct fight between Congress and BJP.

There are four candidates in fray in Gurez, seven in Sonawari, 10 in Kangan, six each in Nobra and Banihal, four each in Kargil and Zanskar, 10 in Kishtwar, 12 in Inderwal, 11 in Doda and eight in Ramban.

Seven ministers are seeking re-election in the first phase - Nazir Ahmad Khan Gurezi (from Gurez), Mohammad Akbar Lone (Sonawari), Mian Altaf (Kangan), Sajad Kichloo (Kishtwar), Abdul Majid Wani (Doda), Nawang Rigzin Joa (Leh) and Vikar Rasool Wani (Banihal).

Besides the ministers who are all sitting MLAs, five legislators are seeking a re-election in the first phase of polls.

PDP's Nizamudding Bhat (Bandipora), Congress candidates Ghulam Mohammad Saroori (Inderwal), Sharief Niaz (Bhaderwah), Ashok Kumar (Ramban) and National Conference's
Tsetan Namgyal (Nobra) are the sitting MLAs seeking another term.

Many star campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi campaigned for their party candidates for the first phase of polls.

While Modi addressed a rally in Kishtwar, Rajnath tried to garner support for BJP candidates in Leh and Bhaderwah constituencies and party president Amit Shah campaigned in Ramban.

Sonia addressed two rallies in Bandipora and Ramban, while Bollywood actor-turned politician Raj Babbar addressed rallies in Bandipora, Sonawari and Ganderbal constituencies.

The other star campaigners include Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for his party the National Conference (NC), PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and party president Mehbooba Mufti, Ambika Soni and Ghulam Nabi Azad for Congress.

The campaigning for the first phase remained by and large peaceful. However, there were minor clashes in Sonawari, when the PDP candidate Yasir Reshi was pelted with stones by some miscreants.

There was no militancy-related incident reported from any of the 15 constituencies going to polls.

The separatist groups like all factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF have called for a boycott of the polls and called for a general strike as well.


Twelve per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise in the first two hours of polling in 13 of the 81 Assembly constituencies of Jharkhand.

"About 12 per cent polling was reported till 9 AM," an Election Commission official said.
Voters, particularly women in large numbers, were seen standing in front of booths across the 13 constituencies as voting progressed smoothly and peacefully on a pleasant winter morning.

"Voting is going on peacefully in both Gumla and Bishunpur," Gumla Deputy Commissioner Gouri Shankar Minz and Superintendent of Police Bhimsen Tuti said.

Adequate security arrangements have been made in all the 13 constituencies which are Maoist-affected ----Chatra (SC), Gumla (ST), Bishunpur (ST), Lohardaga (ST), Manika (ST), Latehar (SC), Panki and Daltonganj, Bishrampur, Chhatarpur (SC), Hussainabad, Garhwa and Bhawanathpur.

The seats are spread over six districts.

An electorate of 33,61,938, of whom 15,77,090 are women voters, are eligible to exercise their franchise today to choose among 199 candidates, including 18 women.
Ten sitting MLAs are testing their fate in their respective constituencies today. Several former MLAs are also in the fray.

Jharkhand Rural Development minister Krishna Nand Tripathi of the Congress is the lone minister in the Hemant Soren Cabinet contesting from Daltonganj.

This is the third Assembly election in Jharkhand which was carved out of Bihar in 2000.
The BJP, which has fielded 12 candidates and allotted one seat to pre-poll ally Ajsu Party, retained its sitting MLA Harikrishn Singh from Manika (ST).

The Congress-RJD-JD(U) alliance is contesting all 13 seats, the Congress in seven, the RJD in six and the JD(U) two.

Although the Congress, RJD and JD(U) are alliance partners, they are engaged in friendly contest in some constituencies.

Both the RJD and JD(U) have put up candidates in Chhatarpur and Hussainabad constituencies and the Congress is locked in a friendly bout with the RJD in Manika.
The Congress severed ties with the ruling JMM last month following failure of seat-sharing talks.

While the JMM is contesting in 12 seats, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM-Prajatantric) has fielded candidates in 11 seats. The JVM-P is supporting two Trinamool Congress candidates from Gumla and Manika constituencies.

The other parties contesting the election include BSP which has fielded 12 candidates, CPI six, CPI-M two, NCP five besides 72 independent candidates.