New Delhi: Defying separatists' boycott call and chilly weather, voters came out in good numbers on Sunday to record a 49 per cent turnout in the fourth and penultimate phase of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections where polling took place in 18 seats. In Jharkhand, elections in 15 constituencies remained peaceful with the state recording 61.08 per cent voter turnout.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the polling in the four districts - Srinagar, Anantnag, Shopian (all in Kashmir valley) and Samba (in Jammu region) was four per cent higher than that in the 2008 Assembly elections but it was lower compared to the average 71 per cent in the first two phases and 59 per cent in the third phase. In fact, Srinagar broke away from its poll-boycott habit setting a 25-year record with 28 per cent voting.
The high turnout in Srinagar is historic and it will give legitimacy to elections in the state, said patron of the opposition People's Democratic Party, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. "There is fear of the BJP and hopes of a transparent government by the PDP that is driving voters today," he said.
Polling began on a sluggish note on Sunday morning, but picked up as the day progressed. Sixteen seats in the Valley and two in Jammu region voted yesterday.
The BJP has ruled out a post-poll alliance with any regional party in Jammu and Kashmir, "We have no political relationship with these two regional parties (the NC and the PDP) as we have different ideologies," said Union minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley.
While casting his vote at Sonwar, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said he missed his father, who was undergoing surgery in London for kidney ailment. "My thoughts are with my parents. I wish I could be there with them but that wasn't to be," he tweeted on Sunday morning.
In Jharkhand, the polling percentage jumped by nearly 8 per cent - the corresponding figure of 2008 was 52.9%.
Jharkhand's Chandankyari registered the highest polling percentage of of 71.28, followed by Madhupur at 70.20, sources in the Election Commission said.
The last phase of polling will be held on December 20. The counting of votes will take place on December 23.