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Campaigning for fourth phase of polls ends

Campaigning for fourth phase of polls ends
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Kulgam district to go to polls on Monday

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Srinagar: The election campaign in Kulgam district, which is part of Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency going to polls in three phases, ended Saturday as nearly 3.45 lakh voters will register their choice of the representative on Monday.
“The election campaigning in Kulgam district came to an end this (Saturday) evening, but will continue in Pulwama and Shopian districts which are also part of the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency,” an election official said.
He said the electioneering in the district remained by and large peaceful.
Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency is spread over four districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama with 16 assembly segments. The Lok Sabha polls to this constituency are being held in three phases due to security reasons.
Anantnag district went to polls on 23rd April, while voting in Kulgam district will be on 29th April and Pulwama and Shopian districts will go to polls on 6 May.
The Election Commission has curtailed the polling duration for Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency by two hours following a request from the state police to this effect. The revised polling timing is from 7 AM to 4 PM.
The EC has established 433 polling stations to facilitate smooth polling in the district, the official said.
The Anantnag constituency in total has 13,97,272 registered voters including 7,20,337 males, 6,72,879 females and 35 transgender voters.
The Kulgam district has 3,45,489 electors including 1,79,607 males, 1,64,604 females, 1,265 service electors and 13 transgender voters.
The district is spread over four assembly segments comprising Noorabad, Kulgam, Hom Shalibugh and Devsar.
Out of these, Kulgam Assembly segment has the highest number of 98,298 voters (51,051 males, 46,818 females, 455 service voters and 4 transgender voters) while Noorabad has the lowest 77,171 electors, including 40,093 males, 36,886 females, 188 service voters and 4 transgender voters.
The Assembly segment of Devsar has 91,288 voters (47,467 males, 43,324 females, 492 service voters and five transgender voters), and Hom Shalibugh segment has 78,669 voters (40,996 males, 37,576 females and 127 service voters).
There are 18 candidates in the fray for Anantnag constituency including PDP president and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti.
Congress has fielded its state president Ghulam Ahmad Mir, while former High Court judge Hasnain Masoodi is contesting on the National Conference ticket.
The other candidates in the fray include former MLC Sofi Yousuf (BJP), Nisar Ahmad Wani (National Panthers Party), Zaffar Ali (People’s Conference), Sanjay Kumar Dhar (Manav Adhikar Party) and Surinder Singh (Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party).
Meanwhile, campaigning for the fourth phase of polling scheduled for April 29 in 72 parliamentary constituencies across nine states also came to an end today.
Polling will be held in 17 seats in Maharashtra, 13 each in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, eight in West Bengal, six each in Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, five in Bihar, three in Jharkhand and a part of the Anantnag constituency.
The stakes are high for the ruling BJP and its allies as it had swept 56 of these seats in 2014, leaving just two for the Congress and the rest for other opposition parties such as the Trinamool Congress and the Biju Janata Dal.
The fate of 961 candidates, including Union ministers Giriraj Singh, Subhash Bhamre, S S Ahluwalia and Babul Supriyo of the BJP and former Union ministers Salman Khurshid and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress, will be decided by about 12.79 core voters in this phase.
Among other key contestants in the fray are Kanhaiya Kumar (CPI), Baijayant Panda (BJP), Urmila Matondkar (Congress), Dimple Yadav (Samajwadi Party), Satabdi Roy (TMC) and Milind Deora (Congress).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and a host of Union ministers among others canvassed for their party candidates over the past few days, undertaking whirlwind tours of constituencies.
In Maharashtra, where election will come to end with this phase, the opposition Congress is facing a tough task of reclaiming its lost base in north Maharashtra and Mumbai, while the NCP is trying to get a foothold in Thane district and Western Maharashtra. The BJP and its ally Shiv Sena had won all 17 seats in 2014.
During the canvassing, which mainly remained centred around issues such as nationalism and agricultural distress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to woo rural as well as urban voters by highlighting infrastructural and development work done under his rule.
For his part, Congress president Rahul Gandhi tried to project the Congress’s proposed minimum income guarantee scheme “NYAY” as a game changer for the poor.
In Rajasthan, where the BJP had won all the seats in 2014, the Congress appeared to make a comeback, forming the government in the state with a narrow majority after last year’s Assembly polls.
In Uttar Pradesh, most of these 13 seats are seeing a direct fight between the BJP and SP-BSP alliance with Kannauj being a matter of prestige for the SP.
In 2014, the BJP won 12 of these 13 seats in the state. Only Kannauj, won by the Samajwadi Party, defied the Modi wave that year among them. Former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple is seeking re-election from Kannauj.
The Congress has a good presence in at least three of the constituencies — Unnao (Annu Tandon), Farrukhabad (Salman Khurshid) and Kanpur (Sriprakash Jaiswal).
Electioneering had reached a feverish pitch for this phase in Odisha as a galaxy of leaders from parties such as the BJP, the Congress and the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) undertook tours of the constituencies, mostly in coastal Odisha. This will be the final phase of polling in the state.
Prominent among the hopefuls include BJP national vice-president Baijayant Panda (Kendrapara) and state Congress president Niranjan Patnaik (Bhandaripokhari). Polling will also be held in 41 assembly seats in Odisha in this phase.
In Bihar, the BJP and its allies are looking to retain all the five seats in the face of a spirited fight put up by the RJD-Congress alliance.
The cynosure of all eyes in this phase, however, is the Begusarai seat which will witness an electrifying contest between the political Left and the Right with CPI debutant Kanhaiya Kumar taking on firebrand BJP leader Giriraj Singh.
Monday’s voting in three constituencies will be the first phase in the BJP-ruled Jharkhand. Addressing poll rallies in Jharkhand this week, a host of top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, appealed to the people to re-elect the NDA to take forward the development work and protect the country.
No prominent national level leaders of opposition parties campaigned in the three seats – Lohardaga (ST), Chatra and Palamu (SC) – in the run-up to the election.
In West Bengal, all the eight seats, which are spread across four districts, will see a four-cornered contest between Trinamool Congress, BJP, Congress and the Left Front.
In all the six seats in Madhya Pradesh, a direct fight between the Congress and the BJP is expected. Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s son Nakul is the Congress candidate from Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat.
The by-election to the Chhindwara assembly constituency where Kamal Nath is in the fray will also be held on Monday.
Election to 542 Lok Sabha seats is being conducted in seven phases between April 11 and May 19. Election in Vellore constituency in Tamil Nadu has been cancelled following excess use of money power.
In the first three phases, voting has been held in 302 Lok Sabha constituencies apart from Anantnag. Results will be declared on May 23. (PTI)

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