New Delhi, Dec 20: Polling for the fifth and final phase of Assembly elections underway in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand on Saturday amidst tight security.
Over 5.5 million voters from Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir will elect their representatives in the final phase of elections, with the BJP eyeing big gains in both states.
In Jammu and Kashmir, voting is taking place for 20 Assembly seats in border district of Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri. Voting, which started at 8 am, will end at 4 pm.
Five ministers of Omar Abdullah government along with 213 other candidates, and a number of former MPs and MLAs are in the fray.
BJP candidate from Noushera seat, Ravinder Raina, was among five persons injured in a clash on Friday night between PDP and BJP workers in Rajaori district of Jammu and Kashmir.
The clash started after Raina’s cavalcade came under attack allegedly by PDP workers, sources said, adding that three BJP members were injured in the incident.
Several key candidates, including deputy chief minister Tara Chand, are in the fight for 20 constituencies spread over three districts of Jammu.
The BJP won 10 of these seats in the 2008 election, the Congress five and the National Conference (NC) two. The PDP that has emerged as the favourite in the ongoing polls contested 15 of these constituencies in the previous edition and picked up one.
Security has been intensified for the election following the November 27 militant attack in the Arnia border belt of Jammu district.
The NC is expected to do well on seven seats. CM Omar Abdullah, the party’s working president, didn’t attack the PM in election rallies – sensing the Modi wave at work – but reminded voters that the PM would not head the government in J-K.
In Jharkhand, polling is underway for 16 constituencies spread over 6 districts of Dumka, Godda, Sahebganj, Jamtara, Deoghar and Pakud in Santhal Pargana region. Voting here began at 7 am, and will end at 3 pm.
Amid adequate security deployment, the exercise began at 7 am and will end at 3 pm in all the seats – Rajmahal, Borio (ST), Barhait (ST), Litipara (ST), Pakur, Maheshpur (ST), Sikaripara (ST), Nala, Jamtara, Dumka (ST), Jama (ST), Jarmundi, Sarath, Poreyahat, Godda and Mahagama.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair polling. A large numbers of central Para military forces have also been deployed.
Acccording to reports, by 9 am, around 13.96% polling was registered in 16 constituencies. Highest 16% voting was recorded in Pakur while lowest 9% in Rajmahal in first two hours.
Barring few incident of EVM malfunctioning in some of the constituencies, polling has been peaceful till now.
Chief minister Hemant Soren is among 208 candidates in the fray from 16 of Jharkhand’s 81 assembly seats. Soren is contesting the Dumka and Barhait seats.
This final stage is crucial for the ruling JMM, say analysts, as the 16 seats falling in six Santhal Pargana districts are considered the party’s stronghold.
In the 2009 elections, the party had won nine seat here and finished second in three.
(With Agency Inputs)