Jharkhand records 61% polling, Jammu and Kashmir sees 58% turnout

The third phase of the five-phase assembly elections in Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir concluded more or less peacefully with polling of 61 per cent and 59 per cent, respectively, despite terror strikes in both states.

By 6:17 pm, Jammu and Kashmir had recorded 58 per cent voter turnout in the third phase of assembly polls while an estimated 60.89 per cent polling was recorded in 17 assembly constituencies of Jharkhand by 6:15 pm.

Nearly 60 per cent polling has been recorded in 14 of the 17 assembly constituencies across eight districts of Jharkhand where voting was held today.

Barring stray incidents, voting ends peacefully in all the 16 assembly constituencies that went to polls in Kashmir today.

In this phase, 289 candidates, including 26 females, are in the fray for 17 of the total 81 assembly constituencies in Jarkhand where the number of voters totals 50,16,657, including 23,55,728 female.

Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) chief Babulal Marandi, who became the first chief minister of the state after resigning from the erstwhile Atal Bihari Vajpayee council of ministers on 15 November 2000, is locked in a tight contest at Dhanwar constituency. which was earlier won by party  candidate Nizzamudin Ansari in the 2009 assembly elections.

Ansari filed nomination on a JMM ticket but his papers were declared invalid following his conviction in a murder case.

Eight MLAs are seeking re-elections in this phase, having 103 independent candidates out of a total of 289, including 26 women.

The constituencies going to the poll are: Kodarma, Barkatha, Barhi, Barkagaon, Ramgarh, Mandu, Hazaribagh, Simaria (SC), Dhanwar, Gomia, Bermo, Ichagarh, Silli, Khijri (ST), Ranchi, Hatia and Kanke (SC).

In Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah and three of his cabinet colleagues are among 144 candidates contesting election in the third phase of polling in 16 seats spread across Budgam, Pulwama and Baramulla districts.

Unprecedented security arrangements have been made as voting is taking place in the shadow of terror attacks from across the border that left 21 people dead in the Valley on 5 December. All eyes will be on Uri and Tral constituencies, which were hit by militant violence ahead of the polls. The first two phases of elections in the state saw a record turnout of over 70 percent, with voters ignoring boycott calls by separatists and militant outfits.

The stakes are high for Peoples Democratic Party as it held nine of the sixteen Assembly constituencies which have an electorate of 13.69 lakh electors, including 6.51 lakh women. A total of 144 candidates are in the fray including the chief minister, three of his cabinet colleagues and 10 other sitting MLAs. 1,781 polling stations have been set up in the area.

Omar, who chose to contest from Beerwah in Budgam instead of his family bastion of Ganderbal, hopes that some of the recent steps taken by his government for the area will help him sail through the electoral tide from a constituency which was won by PDP candidates in the last two elections.

"500 companies of the central security forces have been deployed for tomorrow's (Tuesday) polls in addition to the existing ones drawn from the Central Reserve Police Force and police," reports quoted a security force officer as saying on Monday.