Campaigning ends for 4th phase of polls; Omar, Sayeed in fray

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Srinagar, Dec 12: Campaigning ended on Friday for the fourth phase of Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir, which will see voting on 18 seats with a total of 182 candidates in the fray, including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

Over 14.73 lakh voters, including 7.05 lakh women, are eligible to exercise their franchise on polling day on Dec. 14 across 1,890 polling stations in four districts of the state.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and Bollywood actor and MP Vinod Khanna have campaigned in J-K for the BJP candidates who are contesting in the fourth phase on Sunday.

BJP, which is making its first serious bid for power in the state, has come out all guns blazing to make its presence felt in the Valley. But not to be outdone, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Saifuddin Soz, too, have held rallies in favour of their candidates.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who is contesting from the Sonawar Assembly segment in Srinagar district, was the star campaigner for the ruling National Conference and crisscrossed the four districts to promote his party's cause and canvass for votes for its candidates.

Omar also contested from Beerwah seat in Budgam district which voted in the third phase of polling. The opposition PDP had its patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and party president Mehbooba Mufti turning out to seek votes.

Sayeed, a former chief minister of J-K, is contesting from the Anantnag segment in south Kashmir. Among the other prominent contestants in the fourth phase are Assembly Speaker Mubarak Gul, Omar's close confidant Nasir Aslam Wani, Congress ministers Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed and Ghulam Ahmad Mir, and senior PDP leaders Abdul Rehman Veeri and Altaf Bukhari.

Campaigning in the four districts -- Srinagar, Anantnag, Samba and Shopian -- was by and large peaceful although militants hurled a grenade at a police station in Anantnag town last night, resulting in injuries to three policemen. Suspected ultras also planted an IED under a culvert in Shopian district yesterday but the explosive was detected and neutralised by security forces.

PTI

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