With campaigning over on Monday, the stage is set for polling for Baramulla and Ladakh parliamentary constituencies in the state of Jammu & Kashmir on May 07.
Elaborate arrangements have been made for smooth, free and fair polls in the constituency. Today polling material and staff was dispatched to their destinations from distribution centers and the process concluded early afternoon today. Adequate transportation and communication plans were made for the purpose.
An azure sky and a warm climate added to the enthusiasm of voters and the whole process. The convoys of polling staff passing through green orchard patches were giving an enchanting look.
Polling parties to some remote areas like Karnah, Machil and Kumkadi in Kupwara district and Gurez, Tulail in Bandipora districts stand already dispatched.
Even as 61 Polling Stations, comprising 37 in Sopore, 18 in Baramulla and six in Pattan Assembly segments were relocated/clustered to facilitate voters of different locations cast their votes at centrally located places without hassle, the Booth Level Officers of all the districts in the constituency have been directed to set up Election Facilitation Desks (EFDs) outside polling stations on the polling day to ensure that photo voter slips are distributed among the leftover electors, if any on spot. Already in a majority of locations in Baramulla district photo voter slips, which have attracted attention, were delivered to voters at their doorsteps.
In the district 14 zonal and 109 sectoral magistrates have been designated to ensure peaceful and smooth polling in the district.
Meanwhile, during the campaign trail political parties and candidates held series of meetings and road shows and tried to convince voters to vote for them. The use of local cultural items like music, attire and humour added pun to the campaign.
15 candidates are in fray including candidates of National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, BJP, Peoples Conference, Awami Ittehad Party, Panthers Party and Bahujan Samaj Party besides some independents.
11, 90, 766 voters including 6, 22,632 male and 5,66,460 female voters would be exercising their franchise across the Constituency today. This includes 5, 83,753 voters of Baramulla, 2, 11,967 voters of Bandipora and 3, 93,400 voters of Kupwara districts. There are 18,257 migrant voters included in these figures spread over the three districts of Baramulla 8307, Kupwara 8468 and Bandipora 1482.
To facilitate these voters exercise their franchise, 1616 polling booths have been set up across the constituency at 1303 locations. This includes 822 polling booths in Baramulla district, 531 polling booths in Kupwara district and 263 in Bandipora district.
The Election Commission of India has deputed two General Observers Murli Krishna and Pravesh Kumar, one Security Observer Maddyreddy Pratap and one Expenditure Observer Mahipal Singh to monitor free and fair polling in the constituency.
In Ladakh, the Congress-National Conference alliance has fielded Tsering Samphal, a Ladakhi Buddhist. He is the alliance’s official candidate, but Congress rebel Ghulam Raza is also in the fray. In the past, Ladakh has witnessed polarisation on religious lines between Buddhists and Muslims.
Buddhist voters have always viewed that their interests were safer with New Delhi than with leaders in Srinagar, while the Muslims, for religious reasons, are closer to people living in the Valley. Syed Kazim Sabri, a Muslim, is also fighting the election as an independent. Qamar Ali Akhoon, advisor to the chief minister, and Feroz Khan, Minister for Science and Technology, are canvassing for Sabri. The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Thupson Chewang, another Ladakhi Buddhist, who is being supported by Congress legislator from Leh and Urban Development Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora.
In 2009, the seat was won by Ghulam Hassan Khan, an independent who is not contesting this time. Ladakh has four assembly segments – Kargil, Zanskar, Leh and Nobra – with around 159,000 voters. Some of the world’s most inaccessible inhabited places are situated in Ladakh. About half a dozen such places still cannot be reached by road. The Election Commission will ferry poll staff and election material by air. Some polling stations here also have less than 90 voters. (With Inputs from IANS)