The first phase of Assembly elections in 15 constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir recorded a remarkable 70 per cent polling.
Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath told reporters that there were no major incidents of violence reported in the state. “100 per cent flawless polls in Ist phase in Jammu and Kashmir and not a single incident which vitiates poll process,” Sampath told reporters.
A total of 10,502,50 voters, including 5,00,539 women, sealed the fate of 12 sitting MLAs, including seven ministers among 123 candidates at 1,900 polling stations in 15 constituencies on Tuesday.
For the first time in 25 years, people ignored a boycott call by separatists to line up in large numbers to vote. Despite the bitter cold, voters queued up at polling stations much before polling began at 7 am.
Voting was held in 15 of Jammu and Kashmir’s 87 constituencies – six seats in the Jammu division, five segments in the Kashmir valley and four in Ladakh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted in the morning, “As polls begin in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand, I urge my sisters and brothers in these states to go out and vote in large numbers.” Voting was also held in 13 constituencies in Jharkhand. Votes in both states will be counted on December 23.
No militancy-related incident was reported in Jammu and Kashmir today. Polling was briefly disrupted at Barsoo in Ganderbal district after clashes broke out between two groups, but resumed soon.
For the first time there is a four-way battle between the Congress, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s National Conference, the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP, which has set itself the target of winning 50 plus seats in the 87-member assembly, with an eye on forming government.
The BJP hopes to replicate its success in the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections last month in Jharkhand, though it has never before been seen as a major political player in J&K.
In the national elections this year, the BJP registered its best performance ever in Jammu and Kashmir, winning three of six Lok Sabha seats. The PDP had won the other three, with the Congress-National Conference alliance routed.