J&K LS elections: Polling gathers pace in Udhampur, 43% turnout till 1pm - Hindustan Times
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J&K LS elections: Polling gathers pace in Udhampur, 43% turnout till 1pm

Apr 19, 2024 02:44 PM IST

Polling began at 7am and will end at 6pm; Estimated 16.23 lakh voters across Kathua, Udhampur, Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts will decide fate of 12 candidates, including Union minister Dr Jitendra Singh of the BJP, Congress candidate Choudhary Lal Singh and Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) nominee Ghulam Mohammad Saroori.

Braving incessant rains, 43% of voters registered their choice by 1 pm on Friday in the first phase of the Lok Sabha election in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur parliamentary constituency, officials said.

People standing in a queue to cast their votes at a polling station in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday. (AFP Photo)
People standing in a queue to cast their votes at a polling station in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday. (AFP Photo)

As the weather conditions improved in most places around noon, long queues started forming outside polling stations in the constituency that encompasses an expansive area of 16,707 square kilometres.

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Till 1 pm, the Bani segment recorded a polling percentage 41.98, Banihal 30.41, Basohli 44.82, Bhaderwah 43.01, Bilawar 43.64, Chenani 43.39, Doda 46.87, Doda West 48.82, Hiranagar 43.30, Inderwal 48.87, Jasrota 48.94, Kathua (SC) 45.25, Kishtwar 34.24, Padder-Nagseni 48.56, Ramban 45.75, Ramnagar (SC) 42.17, Udhampur East 48.30 and Udhampur West 36.31.

An Election Commission (EC) official said that an overall 43.11% voter turnout has been recorded.

Polling began at 7am and will end at 6pm.

This is the first major electoral battle after the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories in 2019.

Candidates among early voters

Udhampur Congress candidate Choudhary Lal Singh, who is out on bail in a money-laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate, and his wife Kanta Andotra, cast their votes in Kathua.

Ch Lal Singh, whose election rallies were well-attended, exuded confidence of his win. “I salute the people of my constituency for their overwhelming response and support. Never before in my political career have I received such an overwhelming response from the people,” he told reporters.

BJP leader Balwant Singh Mankotia, his wife and their daughter Akshunya Mankotia were among the first to cast their votes.

“I appeal to voters to exercise their right to franchise because every vote counts. Only a stable and strong government can ensure overall development of the people,” said Mankotia.

Akshunya, a first-time voter, said: “I am happy that I am now part of the electoral process. Youngsters have played a major role in shaping the destiny of our nation. I would request every single voter to cast his or her vote. Don’t take this day as a holiday. We all have a duty towards our nation and we must vote,” she said.

People of silent village of India creates noise via their votes

‘Silent village’ has its say

At Doda’s Dhadkai village, the silent village of India, Rehman Ali’s three specially abled daughters, cast their votes with enthusiasm. “My daughters are can’t speak of hear since birth. They wanted to vote as they are aware citizens,” said Ali.

The Doda district election authorities had conducted a campaign in Dhadkai village to create awareness among the villagers.

The administration had roped in experts and locals to impart the knowledge of voting to the affected population in the village. Its first case of deafness was detected in 1901 and by 1990, it had 46 such cases that rose to 120 over the years. Today, the village has 88 such people. The two panchayats of Dhadkai village has a population of about 5,000.

16.23 lakh voters, 12 candidates

Around 16.23 lakh voters across Kathua, Udhampur, Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts are deciding the fate of 12 candidates, including Union minister Dr Jitendra Singh of the BJP, Congress candidate Choudhary Lal Singh and Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) nominee Ghulam Mohammad Saroori.

While Dr Jitendra Singh, who won the elections in 2014 and 2019, is seeking a third consecutive term, Ch Lal Singh had won the Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency in 2004 and 2009.

Former chief minister and DPAP chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad’s confidant GM Saroori is a three-time former MLA from Inderwal in 2002, 2008 and 2014.

Udhampur-Doda parliamentary constituency is spread over 18 assembly segments with Kathua district accounting for the maximum six seats, Udhampur four, Kishtwar and Doda districts three each and Ramban two.

A total of 1,472 polling stations of the 2,637 have been equipped with webcasting facilities. The constituency had recorded 70.2% polling in the 2019 general election.

There are 701 polling stations in Kathua, 654 in Udhampur, 529 in Doda, 405 in Kishtwar and 348 in Ramban.

Paramilitary and police forces have been mobilized for the purpose,” said a home department official.

Udhampur-Doda parliamentary constituency has 16,23,195 voters, comprising 8,45,283 men, 7,77,899 women and 13 from the third gender.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    A principal correspondent, Ravi Krishnan Khajuria is the bureau chief at Jammu. He covers politics, defence, crime, health and civic issues for Jammu city.

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