SRINAGAR: Voting began on a brisk note on Tuesday in 15 constituencies of J&K going to polls in first of the five-phased state elections.
Braving cold weather, voters on Tuesday lined up at polling stations much before the start of the voting.
Meanwhile, polling for 13 of the 81 assembly constituencies in Jharkhand, spread over six Maoist-affected districts, also began at 7am on Tuesday morning amid tight security.
Twelve sitting MLAs, including seven ministers, are among 123 candidates trying their luck in the 15 constituencies that are going to polls in all three regions of J&K.
While six constituencies in Jammu division will vote to elect their representatives, electorate in five segments in Kashmir and four in Ladakh will decide the political fortunes of the aspirants in the polling.
The Assembly segments going to polls include Kishtwar, Inderwal, Doda, Bhaderwah, Ramban and Banihal (in Jammu division); Gurez, Bandipora, Sonawari, Kangan and Ganderbal (in Kashmir), Nobra, Leh, Kargil and Zanskar (in Ladakh).
A total of 10,502,50 voters, including 5,49,698 males and 5,00,539 females, besides 13 transgenders are eligible to exercise their right to franchise in the first phase of the polls.
Bhaderwah has the largest number of 1,04,354 voters among the 15 constituencies, while Nobra constituency in Ladakh region has the lowest number with 13,054 voters.
Nearly 1900 polling stations have been set-up by the election authorities in these 15 constituencies.
While Bandipora, Ganderbal and Bhaderwah have the highest number of candidates, 13 each, in fray, Leh has the lowest number of candidates with a direct fight between Congress and BJP.
Kashmiri supporters look on during an election rally in Srinagar. (AFP photo)
There are four candidates in fray in Gurez, seven in Sonawari, 10 in Kangan, six each in Nobra and Banihal, four each in Kargil and Zanskar, 10 in Kishtwar, 12 in Inderwal, 11 in Doda and eight in Ramban.
Seven ministers are seeking re-election in the first phase – Nazir Ahmad Khan Gurezi (from Gurez), Mohammad Akbar Lone (Sonawari), Mian Altaf (Kangan), Sajad Kichloo (Kishtwar), Abdul Majid Wani (Doda), Nawang Rigzin Joa (Leh) and Vikar Rasool Wani (Banihal).
An electorate of 33,61,938, of whom 15,77,090 are female voters, are eligible to exercise their franchise to choose among 199 candidates, including 18 women in Jharkhand.
All 13 seats are spread over the six Maoist-affected districts of Palamau, Gumla, Lohardaga, Chatra, Garhwa and Latehar.
The polling will continue till three PM, according to Election Commission sources.
Ten sitting MLAs of different parties are again testing their fate in their respective constituencies while there are several former MLAs too in the fray.
Jharkhand Rural Development Minister Krishna Nand Tripathi of the Congress is the lone minister in the Hemant Soren cabinet contesting from Daltonganj.
Former ministers Kamlesh Singh (NCP) and Bhanu Pratap Sahi (Navjawan Sangharsh Morcha), both on bail in connection with corruption charges, are contesting from Hussainabad and Bhawanathpur constituencies respectively.
Also in the fray are ex-ministers Sudha Choudhary (JDU-Chhatarpur), Radha Krishna Kishore (BJP-Chhatarpur) and Girinath Singh (Garhwa-RJD’s Jharkhand unit chief).
The RJD, which is also supporting the Soren government, had fielded seven candidates, but nomination of one of its candidates was rejected.
The BJP, which has fielded 12 candidates and allotted one seat to pre-poll ally Ajsu Party, retained its sitting MLA Harikrishn Singh from Manika (ST).
The JVM has fielded 11 candidates and is supporting two Trinamool Congress candidates from Gumla and Manika constituencies.
The other parties contesting the election include BSP which has fielded 12 candidates, CPI six, CPI-M two, INC seven, NCP five, AJSU Party one, TMC two, and RJD six besides 72 independent candidates.