Over 29.81 lakh voters will decide the fate of 24 candidates, including former J-K chief minister Farooq Abdullah and Union minister Jitendra Singh, contesting the Srinagar and Udhampur seats, which go to polls in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections on Thursday. Authorities have deployed over 80 companies for election duty in the twin constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.
The twin constituencies have 2,981,083 registered electors, they said. Twelve candidates each are in fray for both Srinagar and Udhampur parliamentary constituencies, the officials said. To ensure smooth conduct of elections, 4,426 polling stations have been set up in the twin constituencies. Abdullah is pitched against Aga Moshin of the PDP, Irfan Ansari of the People's Conference and Khalid Jehangir of the BJP.
An official said that only 46 rallies were conducted in Srinagar district, a city of over 12 lakh residents, during the campaign period. The polling on Thursday will be keenly watched within and outside Kashmir as the constituency recorded an all-time low of 7.2 per cent voter turn out in the 2017 bye-election, marred by violence on polling day that left nine people dead and scores of others injured. The constituency is spread over 15 assembly segments comprising three districts of central Kashmir-Ganderbal, Srinagar and Budgam with 1,295,304 registered voters, the officials said. The authorities have set up 1,716 polling stations across the parliamentary constituency.
In the 2017 by-elections, the electoral strength in the constituency was 1,261,395. National Conference's Farooq Abdullah won the by-elections after defeating his close rival Nazir Khan of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) by 10,766 votes. The seat was left vacant after Tariq Hamid Karra's resignation. Prominent candidates include Union minister Jitendra Singh who is seeking re-election on a BJP ticket, Dogra dynasty scion Vikramaditya Singh fighting as a Congress candidate, Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan founder Choudhary Lal Singh and National Panthers party chairman Harsh Dev Singh. The constituency is spread over 17 assembly segments comprising six districts of Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Reasi, Udhampur and Kathua.
The Udhampur parliamentary seat has 16, 85,779 electors. For the smooth conduct of election, the Election Commission of India has established 2,710 polling stations. In the 2014 general election, the number of voters in the constituency was 14,69,072. The last parliamentary election was won by Jitendra Singh of the BJP by defeating his nearest rival Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress. Singh secured 487,369 votes while Azad managed to bag 426,393 votes.
(With inputs from agencies.)