Voting ends peacefully in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand in the third of the five phased Assembly elections on Tuesday.
An estimated 60.89 per cent polling was recorded in Jharkhand whereas Jammu and Kashmir records 58 per cent turnout in 3rd Phase of Assembly polls.
Voting began for the third-phase assembly elections early morning in 16 constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir and 17 constituencies of Jharkhand amid tight security.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and three of his cabinet colleagues are among 144 candidates whose fate will be decided today in the third phase of polling in 16 seats spread across Budgam, Pulwama and Baramulla districts.
Security arrangements in all the three districts have been strengthened in the wake of Friday’s violence, where 21 persons including 11 security personnel and eight militants were killed in four incidents in the Valley.
The last 24 hours have been peaceful with no incidents of fresh violence reported from any of the three districts.
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 per cent, with voters ignoring boycott calls by separatists and militant outfits.
The stakes are high for Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 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 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.
Omar, who is seeking a second term in the Assembly, faces a stiff challenge from sitting PDP MLA Mohammad Shafi Wani and Congress nominee Nazir Ahmad Khan, whose father Sarfaraz Khan had won from Beerwah in 2002 elections as a PDP candidate.
PDP represents nine of the 16 seats while the ruling NC holds only four. Congress and Peoples Democratic Front won one seat each in the last polls while one seat went to Independent.
While seven assembly seats fall in Baramulla district, five are in Budgam and four in Pulwama.
In Jharkhand, 50,16,657-strong electorate, including 23,55,728 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise to choose among 289 candidates, including 26 women.
Chief Electoral Officer P K Jajoria said that six helicopters were engaged for air surveillance and airdropping of polling and security personnel.
Security forces are keeping a close watch in the Maoist-affected areas where 1,957 booths have been marked as highly sensitive and 1,477 as sensitive booths.
A 10-member team from Kenya is in Ranchi to see the democratic exercise.
Polling will end at 3 PM in 14 constituencies and continue till 5 PM in Ranchi, Hatia and Kanke constituencies.
Prominent candidates in fray are former Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi (Dhanwar), ex-Assembly Speaker C P Singh (Ranchi) and three incumbent ministers—Finance Minister Rajendra Prasad Singh (Bermo), Water Resources Minister Annapurna Devi (Kodarma) and Drinking and Sanitation Minister Jaiprakash Bhai Patel (Mandu).
Eight MLAs are also seeking re-election in this phase which has also 103 independent candidates in fray.
The Election Commission has also appointed 17 general observers, seven expenditure observers, two police observers, two awareness observers and 807 micro-observers for the third of the five-phase poll.
There are 5,862 EVM control units and 9,073 ballot units. VVPAT (Voter verified paper audit trail) are in place in Ranchi, Hatia and Kanke constituencies.
Counting of votes will be on 23 rd December.