Will Srinagar Pass the Turnout Test in Jammu and Kashmir? Phase 4 Polls Underway

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People waiting for their turn to vote in Srinagar.

Srinagar:  The heart of the Jammu and Kashmir Valley, Srinagar, is among the 18 seats that are voting in the key Phase Four of the five-phase assembly elections in the state today. Polling began on a sluggish note this morning due to cold, but picked up as the day started to get warmer. Nearly 10 per cent votes were cast in the first two hours. Unlike the last phase - when four terror attacks took place in the run-up to the polls - this phase has been peaceful. Elections are also being held for 15 seats in Jharkhand.
Here are the 10 latest developments in this story:
  1. This phase is to witness the big fight between the ruling National Conference (NC) and the opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP). Srinagar is the bastion of the NC, which holds all eight seats. The PDP will be fighting to retain South Kashmir.  
  2. This phase will also be the big turnout test - the first two phases had witnessed record turnouts. But they had also been held in rural areas, which traditionally come out to vote.
  3. In the third phase, militant-dominated areas came out in large numbers to vote. Sopore had a record turnout of 30%. But urban areas like Srinagar had always witnessed low polling. In 2008, the turnout in Srinagar had been 20%.
  4. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah - who is contesting from Sonwar - and three sitting ministers are among the 182 candidates in fray. Among them is former Chief Minister and PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who is contesting from Anantnag.
  5. In 2008, of the 18 seats, National Conference won nine, the PDP six, the Congress two and the Panther's Party one. But the BJP, which is aiming to win majority in the state with over 50 seats, hopes to win a chunk.
  6. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the state to attend an election rally on Saturday, tweeted, "There is immense enthusiasm across all parts of J&K for the BJP... BJP will provide a Govt. that will work for people's well-being & hear their voices. Dynastic politics can never become the voice of people."
  7. Attacking the National Conference and PDP for "dynastic politics and nepotism", the Prime Minister also said, "Don't look at those 'baap-beta' (father-son) and 'baap-beti' (father-daughter) duos. Throw them out as it is time to think what's good for your own sons and daughters, and vote for development."
  8. In Jharkhand, many of the 15 constituencies going for polls lie in the Naxal-hit belt. Of the over-3700 polling stations, 716 are marked highly sensitive and 2007, sensitive. Only 615 polling stations are located in urban areas.
  9. Three ministers and 11 sitting legislators are seeking re-election. Also in the fray is former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi, who is contesting from Giridih.
  10. The last phase of polling will be held on December 20. The counting of votes will take place on December 23.




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