Despite Rain, 43 Percent Voter Turnout in JK’s Udhampur

Despite Rain, 43 Percent Voter Turnout in JK’s Udhampur

SRINAGAR: Braving incessant rains, an estimated 43 per cent 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.

Polling began at 7 am in 2,637 polling stations across the constituency and was going on peacefully with no untoward incident reported, they said, adding that there are 12 candidates in the fray.

Union minister Jitendra Singh, who is eyeing a third term after winning the Udhampur seat for the BJP in 2014 and 2019, is contesting against Congress leader and two-time former MP Choudhary Lal Singh and the DPAP’s G M Saroori, besides six independents.

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

Braving inclement weather, early voters were seen heading for polling stations before the start of voting, the officials said, adding more than 11,000 polling staff, including reserve, have been deployed while security arrangements are foolproof to ensure free and fair elections.

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. It consists of 18 Assembly segments spanning across five districts — Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Udhampur and Kathua.

The officials said up to 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.

The overall poll percentage was recorded at 43.11.

Lal Singh and Saroori were among those who cast their votes at their respective polling stations in Kathua and Kishtwar and expressed confidence in winning the seat.

“People are angry over the abrogation of Article 370 and downgrading of the erstwhile state into a Union territory…,” the Congress candidate said.

Union minister Jitendra Singh visited a polling station in Kathua to oversee the polling process. He expressed confidence in retaining the seat with a huge margin.

According to the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, a total of 1,472 polling stations out of 2,637 have been equipped with webcasting facilities in the constituency having a diverse electorate comprising 16,23,195 eligible voters.

There are a total of 84,468 potential first-time voters, aged 18-19 years, of which 45,825 are men, 38,641 are women and two are third genders, the officials said.

They said the constituency also has a sizable elderly population, with 12,020 men and 13,612 women aged 80 and above, totalling 25,632 seasoned voters contributing to the electoral process.

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