news Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute| November 25, 2014| 9.00 pm IST Voters in Jammu and Kashmir defied a boycott call by separatist groups and braved inclement weather to cast their ballot in large numbers as 15 assembly constituencies voted in the first of the five-phase state polls. State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Umang Narula told the media in Jammu that more than 70 percent of the over one million voters cast their ballot. Polling was peaceful and no untoward incident was reported from anywhere during the day. Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi told the media in Delhi that the constituencies had seen 64.97 percent turnout in the 2008 elections and 52.63 percent in the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year. "It is a good increase. The voting percentage seems to be on the higher side," Zutshi said, adding that there could be an increase of about two percent after all votes cast were taken into account.  First-time voters were enthusiastic about casting their ballot. "Yes, I have voted and I have no fear in admitting this. It's time all youth came out to bring change which is only possible through the power of ballot," said 25-year-old Irshad at the Inderkote polling station in Sonawari constituency. The morning cold affected the early voter turnout, but young and enthusiastic voters queued up, dressed in traditional Kashmiri attire. A separatist boycott call in the Valley evoked no response, as men and women came out in large numbers to vote. A 121-year-old woman also cast her ballot. Zutshi said Noor Bi voted in Ramban district, becoming the oldest person to vote in the first phase. Voting continued in 13 polling stations even after 4 p.m. as voters had entered the demarcated area before the scheduled end. The CEO said 31 sorties were made by Mi-7 helicopters and 12 by smaller choppers to ferry polling staff and voting machines to and from inaccessible areas. "The highest polling was recorded in Sonawari with 80.1 percent, while the lowest was recorded in Ganderbal with 53 percent," Narula said. Maoist call for boycott rejected Meanwhile, Jharkhand voters defied a poll boycott call by Maoists and turned up in large numbers to cast their ballot in the first of the five-phase assembly elections. Voting took place in 13 of the 81 assembly constituencies in six Maoist-affected districts. Over three million voters were eligible to cast their ballot, of whom about 1.8 million exercised their franchise. Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha, who briefed the media about the Jharkhand elections in Delhi, said the polling percentage in 13 constituencies that went to the polls was 61.92 percent. He said these constituencies saw 58 percent polling in the 2009 assembly polls as well as in the Lok Sabha elections. Voter turnout was good in Maoist affected areas despite a boycott call. The Bharatiya Janata Party, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Bahujan Samaj Party contested in 12 constituencies each, the Congress in seven and its alliance partner Rashtriya Janata Dal in six. Modi reached out to the state's tribal population and said: "Wherever there is tribal population, BJP is forming government." He cited the example of states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, all of which have a tribal population and a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. He said Jharkhand can become a developed state as it is rich in natural resources, minerals, land and mines. Polling percentages in Kashmir In Ladakh region, Nubra saw 75 percent polling, Zanskar 71.07, Leh 66 and Kargil 59.82. In the Kashmir Valley, Sonawari recorded 80.1 percent, Kangan 76.83, Bandipora 70 and Gurez 77.1, while in Jammu region, Doda saw 79.6 percent polling, Ramban 68, Bannihal 70, Kishtwar 68.8, Inderwal 72.5 and Bahderwah 70.7. Polling was low key initially because of the winter cold, especially in the Ladakh region where temperatures were much below freezing point. IANS

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