Jammu/New Delhi: The fate of 77 candidates, including Union ministers Farooq Abdullah and Ghulam Nabi Azad, from six Lok Sabha seats of Jammu and Kashmir will be known after the counting of votes on Friday.
“Tight security arrangements have been made in and around the counting centres in five districts in Jammu and Kashmir.
“All other arrangements have also been put in place,” a senior officer of J&K Election department officer said Thursday.
For Jammu Lok Sabha constituency, the counting will begin at Polytechnic College in Jammu from 0800 hours, followed by counting for Udhampur LS constituency in Kathua, Ladakh LS seat at Leh, Anantnag LS seat at Anantnag, Srinagar and Baramulla LS seats in Srinagar and Baramulla.
The stakes are high for NC-Congress coalition in LS polls ahead of December-end Assembly elections as political heavy weights and former J&K Chief Ministers Abdullah and Azad are in the fray along with its MPs. In last elections, the NC-congress coalition had bagged 5 out of 6 seats.
Giving tough fight to NC-Congress coalition is opposition PDP with the party’s chief Mehbooba Mufti hoping to score a victory from Kashmir Valley in order to increase its electoral turf ahead of Assembly elections in J&K.
State BJP Chief Jugal Kishore Sharma and JKNPP Chief Prof Bhim Singh are contesting from Jammu region in the state.
Union Minister Abdullah, who is candidate from NC bastion Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, has been Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir thrice—in 1983, 1987 and 1996.
Abdullah’s Cabinet colleague and Congress stalwart Ghulam Nabi Azad, who too is a former Chief Minister of J&K (between 2006 and 2008), contested the Lok Sabha election for the first time from his hometown Udhampur.
Azad is facing BJP candidate Jatinder Singh and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) chief Bhim Singh in Udhampur Lok Sabha seat.
Mufti, who has won Assembly elections two times from Pahalgam and Wachi Assembly constituencies and Parliamentary elections once from Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, is seeking to win from the constituency which she represented as MP in 2004.
PDP’s former Finance Minister, Tariq Karra is contesting against Abdullah from Srinagar Lok Sabha seat.
Jugal Kishore Sharma, who is a two time BJP MLA from Nagrota constituency of Jammu district, is state president of BJP and is in direct battle with two time MP of Congress and former Minister Madan Lal Sharma on Jammu seat.
In Ladakh Assembly seat, former Chief Executive Councillor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (Leh) and BJP candidate Thupustan Chawang faces former MLA and Congress candidate Tsering Samphel.
In Baramulla, former Deputy Chief Minister and senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig is taking on Mohammad Sharik of NC candidate, who was elected to Lok Sabha in 2009.
First trends by 9.30 am
Counting of votes, the grand finale in the nine-phased Lok Sabha elections, will be taken up Friday across the country and final results will be available by 4 pm.
Election Commission said the counting exercise to be held at 989 counting centres is likely to be completed by 4 pm and trends will start emerging by 9.30 am.
By noon, a final picture could emerge on who would be the major players in the 16th Lok Sabha.
Ahead of the counting of votes, Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath said on Thursday that the large voter turnout was a result of “good” electoral rolls prepared by the poll authorities across the country.
He said a “lots of steps were taken to ensure that those eligible to vote find their names in the electoral lists.”
The exercise to add fresh voters was carried out even days before the first phase of polling was held on April 7.
8,251 candidates, including top guns Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal were in the fray, in the largest-ever electoral exercise held in Indian history.
While national parties—Congress, BJP, BSP, CPI, CPI (M) and NCP—fielded a total of 1,591 candidates, the 47 state parties fielded 529 candidates. While the over 1,600 registered but unrecognised political parties fielded 2,897 candidates, 3,234 Independents were also in the fray.
The exit polls have projected that BJP will emerge as the single largest party.
The counting of votes will begin at 8 am when the postal ballots will be counted. According to EC guidelines, half-an-hour after the postal ballots are counted, the process of counting votes from the over seven lakh EVMs will begin.
The ‘ballot unit’ is switched on in the presence of senior poll officials and counting agents of candidates and the result command keyed in to get results per machine.
These were the first Lok Sabha elections when the option of ‘none of the above’ or NOTA was introduced on the EVMs following Supreme Court directions. Before NOTA button was installed on EVMs, voters had to fill up Form 49 ‘O’ at the polling station which compromised their identity.
Seeking to ensure transparency, EC has deployed micro observers at all counting tables. The returning officers have been directed to provide printout of each counting round and every table to the counting agents of candidates.
Lok Sabha elections 2014 witnessed the highest-ever turnout with 66.38 per cent of an estimated 814 million voters exercising their franchise—the highest ever in the history of general elections.—PTI