Braving the cold, Kashmiris came out to vote in large numbers in the fourth phase of assembly elections on Sunday even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was embarrassed by its candidate Hina Bhat, who allegedly slapped a poll official.
Turnout in the 18 constituencies spread over three districts in the state stood at 49%, lower than the first three phases, but marginally higher than the last polls in 2008.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah’s Sonawar constituency with 44% turnout led among the eight Srinagar seats, where 28% polling was recorded, up seven percentage points from 2008. Poll boycotts announced by separatists generally hold sway in these seats.
While some areas such as Gojwara and Rajouri Kadal saw a poll boycott – Rajouri booths didn’t see a single vote cast – Amira Kadal, Batamaloo and Habba Kadal saw big jumps in turnout.
Amira Kadal also saw BJP’s Hina Bhat – fighting Abdullah’s aide Nasir Aslam Wani — slapping a polling official following a heated argument, said eyewitnesses. The action was condemned both by National Conference workers and Abdullah, who tweeted,
“The BJP candidate in Srinagar who earlier threatened to pick up a gun over Art 370 now slaps a polling officer. Well done.”
Outside Srinagar, many areas in south Kashmir clocked close to 60% turnout with the twin constituencies of Vijaypur and Samba in Jammu region leading with 81% and 77% votes cast.
Terror-hit Shopian recorded 52% turnout while Anantnag, where People’s Democratic Party chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is fighting, saw 38% votes polled. Shopian BJP candidate Javed Ahmad Qadri was also accused of beating up a voter inside a booth.
Brisk polling in Jharkhand
Notwithstanding inclement weather, fourth phase of polls in Jharkhand was peaceful and registered 61.08% turnout on Sunday.
Voters of 15 constituencies in four districts made a beeline for polling stations since morning to elect their representatives. In Giridih’s Pirtand people defied Maoists’ poll boycott call and came out in large numbers. However, no untoward incident was reported from any constituency.
After this phase, elections are now over in 65 of the 81 assembly seats in Jharkhand.
Some of the constituencies witnessed drizzle that brought down the maximum temperature by five degrees Celsius below the normal.
The cold claimed one victim. A police constable (Chowkidar) of Bagodar police station Bhakur Kohl reportedly died on the premises of Dumri police station due to cold.
Overall voters’ turnout was about 7% higher than the last 2009 assembly polls in the 15 constituencies that went to polls in this phase, said officials.
“In 2009, the overall turnout was merely 54.64% in these 15 constituencies. Overall poll percentage may increase by one or 2% when final figure will arrive,” chief electoral officer (CEO) Jharkhand PK Jajoria said.
Voter turnouts in the first, second and third phase of the assembly election were 63.35%, 68.01% and 63.96%, respectively.
Both Jharkhand and J-K will hold the fifth and last stage of polling on December 20.