Final round of J-K and Jharkhand polls today
Over 5.5 million voters from Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir will pick their representatives in the final phase of assembly elections on Saturday, with the BJP - once a fringe player in both states - eyeing big gains, high on a wave of victories this year.india Updated: Dec 20, 2014 02:26 IST
Over 5.5 million voters from Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir will pick their representatives in the final phase of assembly elections on Saturday, with the BJP - once a fringe player in both states - eyeing big gains, high on a wave of victories this year.
Several key candidates, including deputy chief minister Tara Chand, are in the fight for 20 constituencies spread over three districts of Jammu, with voters expected to come out in large numbers going by the previous stages of polling.
The BJP won 10 of these seats in the 2008 election, the Congress five and the National Conference (NC) two. The Peoples Democratic Party (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 20 Hindu-dominated constituencies will also test the PDP's acceptability and for this reason party patron Mufti Sayeed didn't talk much about the "self-rule" issue during campaigning, stressing more on the need for peace along the border and making Jammu a smart city.
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.
During a spirited campaign, Modi had accused NC and the PDP of imposing dynastic rule in the state, saying this had not allowed the state to progress.
Experts said in case of a fractured mandate, it would be interesting to watch who among the four major parties would embrace whom to form the government.
Chief minister Hemant Soren is among 208 candidates in the fray from 16 of Jharkhand's 81 assembly seats that go to the polls in the fifth phase. 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 won nine of these constituencies and finished second in three.
The BJP is looking to sustain its winning habit here, having swept Lok Sabha polls and key states this year on the back of Modi's popularity. However, the party lost two of the three parliamentary seats from Santhal Parganas in the general elections.