Final phase of elections: Polling begins on brisk note

Jammu, Dec 20 (PTI) Amid tight security, polling today began on a brisk note for the fifth and final round of elections in Jammu and Kashmir in which 213 candidates, including Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand and four other Ministers, are trying their luck in 20 seats.

After a record turnout of voters in the previous four phases, particularly in Kashmir Valley, there is an expectation of high voter turnout in the seats spread across Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts of Jammu region.

As many as 213 candidates, including the Deputy Chief Minister, ministers Sham Lal Sharma, Raman Bhalla, Manohar Lal Sharma, Ajay Sadhotra, former MP and Ministers Lal Singh and Talib Hussain (both BJP) are in the fray.

As many as 18,28,904 eligible voters, comprising 9,59,011 men and 8,69,891 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise at 2,366 polling stations set up across the three border districts.

BJP has high stakes in this phase as it had got 10 seats in 2008 Assembly elections followed by Congress with 5 seats, NC 2, PDP 1 and two seats going to Independents.

“All the measures and arrangements have been put in place for tomorrow’s polls”, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu Division, Shant Manu told PTI.

The Divisional Commissioner said that 400 security companies (40,000 security men) have been deployed for today’s polling apart from regular deployment of police forces.

Security arrangements along the Indo-Pak border have been strengthened in the three border districts of Jammu region with troops put on alert for the polls.

“Security grid along the Indo-Pak border has been put on alert. Multi-tier security has been put in place”, the Divisional Commissioner said. .