Azad's fate to be known tomorrow
Srinagar, Apr 26 : The fate of 17 candidates, including Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad who is seeking maiden entry into the state Assembly, will be known tomorrow when counting of votes in four Assembly constituencies of Bhaderwah, Pattan, Sangrama and Rafiabad would be taken up amid tight security.
An unprecedented 60 per cent voting had been recorded in the by-elections to the four Assembly constituencies on April 24 despite poll boycott call by several separatist groups, including both the factions of the Hurriyat Conference.
A record 76 per cent voter turnout was registered in Bhaderwah constituency followed by 67 per cent in Rafiabad, 61 per cent in Pattan and 41 per cent in Sangrama.
A heavy security bandobast is in place at the Degree College, Baramulla where the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have been kept and would be unsealed tomorrow morning for counting of votes.
From Bhaderwah constituency of Doda district in Jammu region, Mr Azad is locked in a straight contest against Bharatiya Janata Party's Dhanentar Singh. The main Opposition National Conference (NC) had decided not to field any candidate from the seat in favour of the Chief Minister.
The seat was vacated by former Power Minister and senior Congress leader Mohammad Sharief Niaz to enable Mr Azad to contest the elections and enter the state Assembly.
Four candidates each are in the fray from Pattan and Rafiabad seats while Sangrama is witnessing a fight between seven contestants.
The key contest in the bypoll was between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a ruling coalition partner, and the NC.
While in Pattan, PDP candidate Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari is facing a tough fight from NC's Sheikh Mustaffa Kamal to retain the seat, the main contest in Rafiabad is between PDP's Mohammad Dilwar Mir, seeking re-election, and NC's Advocate Mohammad Maqbool Mir.
In Sangrama, the NC had decided to support independent candidate Shoaib Nabi Lone, the son of then Minister of State for Education Dr Ghulam Nabi Lone, who was assassinated by unidentified gunmen at high-security Tulsi Bagh area in Srinagar on October 18 last year.
The PDP had fielded Javed Hussain Baig, the nephew of Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig, from the seat.