Over 17.80 lakh voters to decide fate of 22 candidates in Jammu LS seat

JAMMU — The Jammu parliamentary constituency is all set to go to polls in the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections amid tight security arrangements on Friday.

Over 17.81 lakh eligible voters are set to exercise their franchise across 2,416 polling stations to decide the fate of 22 candidates.

The Jammu Lok Sabha seat is one of the 89 constituencies in 13 states and Union territories across the country going to polls on Friday.

The campaigning for the elections to the Jammu Lok Sabha seat concluded peacefully on Wednesday evening.

“The preparations are underway. Tomorrow is the election date. The teams have been dispatched. The process started at 9 am. The teams will reach the polling stations in Jammu by evening,” said Sachin Kumar Vaishya, the returning officer for Jammu Lok Sabha constituency.

The officials said that all arrangements have been put in place for an incident free polls.

“Security and other related arrangements are in place to ensure free, fair and peaceful voting. A contingency plan has been also worked out to ensure no disruption in polling along the borders,” Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Pandurang K Pole said.

He expressed hope that polling would remain peaceful.

Pole said that no untoward incident was reported during the campaigning, which ended on Wednesday evening. He added that necessary action has been taken against violators of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), with cash, drugs, liquor and other goods worth over Rs 20 crore seized since the announcement of the elections.

Polling will take place from 7 am to 6 pm, with a mock poll in the presence of polling agents before voting begins.

“Voting will continue even after 6 pm if the voters queue is still there in the polling station premises to ensure their right to vote,” the officials said.

This is the second Lok Sabha seat in Jammu and Kashmir to go to polls in this election. Earlier, polling was held in the Udhampur seat on April 19, recording a voter turnout of over 68 per cent.

A total of 17,80,835 voters, including 9,21,095 male and 8,59,712 female voters, besides 28 third-gender electorates, are enrolled in the Jammu Lok Sabha constituency, they said.

The officials said there are around 10,498 persons with disabilities and 666 persons above the age of 100 years who will also be exercising their franchise.

Around 2,416 polling stations are set to go to polls in the second phase across four districts of Jammu, Samba, Reasi, and Rajouri’s one Kalakote-Sunderbani assembly segment, out of which 36 polling stations are P-2, they said.

The election staff, including the presiding officers, will be stationed in every polling station.

“In total, more than 15,000 polling staff, including reserves, will be deployed on duty on the polling day. Among the districts, Jammu has 50 critical booths, while Samba has around 12 border polling stations,” the official said.

As many as 2,416 polling stations, including 158 along the International Border and Line of Control (LoC), have been set up in the constituency, they said.

The officials said there will be 10 polling booths managed by women – also called as pink polling stations – 10 polling booths manned by specially abled persons and nine by youths.

There will be 12 green polling stations in order to spread messages about environmental concern.

In addition to the 11 assembly constituencies of Jammu district, the Jammu Lok Sabha seat includes the Kalakote-Sunderbani constituency of Rajouri, Gulabgarh, Reasi and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi segments of Reasi district and Ramgarh, Samba and Vijaypur segments of Samba district.

Jammu recorded a turnout of 74 per cent in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Twenty-two candidates are in the fray from the constituency spread across 17 assembly segments of Jammu, Samba and Reasi districts, and one assembly constituency in Rajouri district.

A direct contest is on the cards between sitting BJP MP Jugal Kishore Sharma and INDIA bloc candidate Ramban Bhalla, the working president of the J&K Congress unit.

Jagdish Raj of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and advocate Ankur Sharma of the Ekam Sanatan Bharat Dal are two other prominent faces contesting the seat.

The BJP candidate, seeking his third term, defeated Bhalla by a margin of over three lakh votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. He had won the seat in 2014 as well.

Union Ministers Amit Shah, Anurag Thakur and Jitendra Singh, and J&K BJP chief Ravinder Raina have campaigned in support of Sharma. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in Udhampur on April 12.

The Congress’ star campaigner and former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, Mahila Congress president Alka Lamba, J&K Congress president Vikar Rasool Wani and AICC in-charge for J-K Bharat Singh Solanki have addressed election campaign rallies in Bhalla’s support. — (PTI)