All arrangements in place for counting of votes in JK

Srinagar: All necessary arrangements have been finalised for counting of votes for Jammu and Kashmir’s six parliamentary seats on Friday when the fate of two Union ministers and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president will be known.
“All the arrangements have been finalised for counting of votes for the six parliamentary constituencies in the state.
Mock drills were conducted to acquaint the counting staff with the process,” an official spokesman said.
He said the counting of votes will begin at 8 am on Friday in the all six constituencies.
Union ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Farooq Abdullah, and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti are among the 78 aspirants from the state’s six Lok Sabha seats that went to polls in five phases from April 10 to May 7.
This election is believed to be the most keenly contested Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
The returning officers of all the constituencies have held meetings with the candidates or their representatives for ensuring that the counting process passes off smoothly, the spokesman said.
In Jammu Lok Sabha constituency, sitting MP Madan Lal Sharma will be hoping to stave off challenge from BJP candidate and MLA Jugal Kishore and 17 other candidates.
Union Health Minister Azad is locked in a multi-cornered contest, but the battle for Udhampur Lok Sabha seat is seen as one between him and BJP candidate Jatinder Singh.
The PDP president would like to maintain her winning record as she has never lost an election from south Kashmir—be it the Lok Sabha or Assembly polls.
She is pitted against incumbent MP Mehboob Beg of the ruling National Conference and 10 others.
In Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, Union minister Farooq Abdullah will also be hoping to maintain his winning streak as he is facing challenge from 14 candidates including PDP leader Tariq Hamid Karra, the richest of the 78 candidates from the state.
Abdullah also has never lost an election in his over three decades’ political career.
Although Baramulla parliamentary constituency has 14 candidates, the contest is seen as a quadrangular between sitting MP Shariefuddin Shariq (National Conference), Muzaffar Hussain Baig (PDP), Salamuddin Bajad (Peoples Conference) and Abdul Rashid Sheikh (Awami Ittehad Party).
The situation is no different in the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat where four candidates are in fray with each of them having a realistic chance of making it to Parliament in view of the fluid political situation that emerged ahead of the polls.
The battle should have been a direct one between BJP’s Thupstan Chewang and Congress candidate Tsering Samphel as PDP and National Conference—the regional parties—did not field any candidate from this seat.
However, Islamia School Kargil, a local seminary with a leaning towards National Conference, fielded Syed Mohammad Kazim as an Independent candidate while former Congress leader Ghulam Reza also jumped into the contest.—PTI