The much anticipated Lok Sabha elections go to poll in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, taking place in 5 phases, begins today on two parliamentary seats—Jammu and Baramulla—amid high security in the areas.
Valley is expecting two power-houses, National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to lock horns, while representatives of the national parties, Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will also have a say. Including Er. Rasheed of Awami Ittihad Party, there will 9 contestants from the parliamentary seat in north Kashmir.
According to the reports, Election Commission of India (ECI) has set up 1,749 polling stations at 1,387 locations in Baramulla constituency for 13,12,148 registered voters, in which 6,74,417 are males while 6,34,083 others are females, and 41 belongs to the third gender as well. The constituency has 7,953 Persons with Disability (PWD) voters and 157 Voter Verification and Information Programme (VVIP) electors.
Baramulla LS seat is spread over 15 assembly segments including Karnah, Kupwara, Handwara Langate, Uri, Rafiabad, Sopore, Gure, Bandipora, Sonawari, Sangrama, Baramulla, Gulmarg and Pattan. Not being the hotbed of violence, Baramulla constituency is expecting decent voters’ turnout.
In last LS elections in 2014, Muzaffar Hussain Baig of PDP secured 1,75,277 votes, which put him par with 29,212 votes more than his closest opponent NC’s Shareef-u-din Shariq, who had got 1,46,058. Though, PDP has changed its card from Mr. Baig to Abdul Qayoom Wani, while NC is counting on Mohammad Akbar Lone.
But, the voter turnout in Baramulla constituency in 2014, that was 37.61 percent, dropped from 46.1 percent in 2009.
Among 9 candidates contesting for the seat, aside from PDP’s Mr. Wani, and NC’s Mr. Lone, more interesting names are People’s Conference’s Raja Aijaz, Haji Farooq Ahmad Mir from the ticket of Congress while sitting Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Er. Rasheed will be representing his own political outfit, Awami Ittihad Party.
Days before the elections, new disrupter in the scene, former IAS officer, Shah Faesal sparked a new-debate, tweeting that Er. Rasheed is the best pick for north Kashmir’s representation in parliament.
Amid all of these, Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) and multiple militant outfits including, Zakir Musa-led Ansar Ghaswat-ul-hind, and Riyaz Naikoo-led Hizbul Mujahideen has called for an election boycott in Valley.
Jammu parliamentary seat, spread over four districts, Jammu, Sambha, Poonch and Rajouri, will be witnessing a straight contest between sitting Member of Parliament (MP) BJP’s Jugal Kishore Sharma and Congress nominee Raman Bhalla.
Among 24 candidates, a few other prominent names are Lal Singh of the Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan and Bhim Singh of the Panthers Party, while, both NC and PDP, who have a significant presence in Pir Panchal region, are supporting the Congress nominee.
The Jammu-Poonch seat is the state’s largest parliamentary constituency, with an electorate size of over 20 lakh.