Srinagar: Counting of votes for the 87 assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir began here on Sunday to install a new government, ending the nearly six-month long Governor’s rule in the state.
The process began at 9 am at 22 centres across the state amidst tight security. The final results are expected to be out by the evening.
The seven-phased polls witnessed an unexpected high voter turnout of 61.5% despite a boycott call by separatists. An estimated 43% of voters exercised their franchise in the 2002 elections.
Electoral fortunes of 1,353 candidates, including former chief ministers Gulam Nabi Azad, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Farooq Abdullah and NC president Omar Abdullah (Ganderbal) and PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti, will be decided today.
Though all the constituencies witnessed multi-cornered contest but the real fight is among Congress, NC and the PDP for the 46 seats in Kashmir while BJP and National Panthers Party are in contention for the 37 constituencies in Jammu.
Governor’s rule was imposed in the state in July following Chief Minister Gulam Nabi Azad’s resignation after the PDP pulled out of the Congress-led coalition over the Amarnath land row.
The political parties have put all their might in securing maximum number of seats through hectic campaigning with as many as 4,346 rallies and public meetings organised across the state, including 2,299 in Kashmir Valley.
The current elections saw major participation of independent candidates with as many as 468, far higher than the total number of candidates in the 1972 and 1977 elections, trying their luck.
While in 1972 polls, 342 candidates were in fray, in the 1977 electoral exercise, as many as 408 candidates contested, election department officials said.
Participation of women was also good with as many as 67 candidates trying their electoral fortunes.