A Million Voters, 123 Candidates in First Phase
SRINAGAR: The stage is set for the first of the five-phased Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir as 12 sitting MLAs, including seven ministers, are among 123 candidates trying their luck in 15 constituencies that will go to polls today (Tuesday) in all three regions of the state.
A total of 72 lakh people are eligible to vote in the polls to pick an 87-member House. The five-phase election will end on December 20. Counting will take place on December 23.
On Tuesday six constituencies in Jammu division, five in Kashmir and four in Ladakh will vote to elect their representatives in the polling that is scheduled to begin at 8 AM.
Assembly segments going to polls tomorrow include Kishtwar, Inderwal, Doda, Bhaderwah, Ramban and Banihal (in Jammu division); Gurez, Bandipore, Sonawari, Kangan and Ganderbal (in Kashmir division), Nobra, Leh, Kargil and Zanskar (in Ladakh division).
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 Bandipore, 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 will be seeking a re-election in the first phase of polls.
PDPs Nizamudding Bhat (Bandipore), Congress candidates Ghulam Mohammad Saroori (Inderwal), Sharief Niaz (Bhaderwah), Ashok Kumar (Ramban) and National Conferences Tsetan Namgyal (Nobra) are the sitting MLAs seeking another term.
In the first phase, 15 constituencies in seven districts will vote on November 25. The second and third phases will see polling in 18 and 16 constituencies on December 2 and 9, respectively.
The fourth phase will be held on December 14 (18 constituencies) while the fifth and final round will involve 20 constituencies on December 20.
The term of the current Jammu and Kashmir assembly expires by the middle of January next year. A new House must be constituted before the expiry of the present assemblys tenure.
The 2014 assembly elections that have for the first time made the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a major power, much to the chagrin of the states established parties.
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.
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