Campaigning ends for Baramulla LS seat; stakes high for NC


Srinagar: The blazing campaign trail in the prestigious Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency ended on Saturday, setting the stage for more than 17.32 lakh eligible voters to exercise their franchise in the fifth phase of the general elections on May 20.
The first major political battle post the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 will decide the fate of Omar Abdullah, the National Conference vice-president and a former chief minister of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state, and 21 others in the fray from the north Kashmir seat.
The constituency is spread over 18 assembly segments in the three districts of Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora and also includes two segments of Budgam.

17,37,865 lakh electors eligible to vote in 2,103 polling booths across Baramulla PC

SRINAGAR: Around 17,37,865 electorates would be casting their ballot in 2,103 polling stations established across the Baramulla Parliamentary Constituency during 5th phase of ongoing Lok Sabha elections scheduled to be held on May 20.
“These total 17,37,865 lakh voters enrolled in the phase V included 8,75,831 male and 8,62,000 female voters besides 34 third gender electorates. There are around 17128 Persons with Disability and 527 persons above the age of 100 years who will be exercising their franchise”, read a communiqué received on Saturday from office of Chief Electoral Officer, J&K.
The communiqué added that around 2,103 polling stations have been set up in the fifth phase across 4 districts of Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora and parts of Budgam. The election staff including Presiding Officers will be stationed in every polling station. In total, more than 8,000 polling staff, including reserves, will be deployed on duty on the polling day. Besides, there are 28 border polling stations in Kupwara and Baramulla districts
The communication added that the voting will take place from 7.00 am to 6.00 pm and before that there will be mock poll in the polling stations in presence of the polling agents. Also, the voting will continue even after 6.00 pm, if the voter’s queue is still there in the Polling Station premises to exercise their right to vote.
Every polling station will be provided with Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF’s) like drinking water, electricity, toilet, ramp, furniture, verandah / shed besides wheelchairs will also be provided to the needy. The ballot unit will also have a list of contesting candidates in braille script. Whereever required, there will be separate queues for senior citizens and specially-abled persons facilitating them in every polling station. Additionally, there will be a voter help desk, manned by the concerned Booth Level Officer (BLO).
There will be 18 polling booths managed by women (also called as pink polling stations), 17 polling booths manned by specially abled persons and 18 by youths. Also, there will be 21 green polling stations in order to spread messages about environmental concerns. The purpose behind these special polling stations is to spread awareness among sections of the society like women, specially abled, first time young voters to come forward and exercise their right to vote.
Aimed at to facilitate the voters in identification and increase voter turnout ratio, all voters have been provided with voter information slip with all requisite information like Polling Station name, date and time of poll, serial number of voter in the list, his full name, QR code but not the photograph of the voter. Hence, the voter Information Slips will not be allowed as proof of the identity of voters. Also, the citizens can view details of the Polling Station, Parliamentary Constituency and get the contact details of the Booth Level Officer, Electoral Registration Officer among other services, through Voter Helpline App (VHA). This mobile app is available on the Google Play store and Apple App Store.
In addition to the Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC), 12 types of documents will also be allowed to verify a voter and allow him for vote. EPIC cards are not mandatory for voting. The requisite documents included Aadhaar Card, MGNREGA Job Card, Pass books with photograph, Health Insurance Smart Card issued under the scheme of the Ministry of Labour, Driving License, PAN Card, Smart Card issued by RGI under NPR, Indian Passport, Pension document with photograph, Service Identity Cards with photograph issued to employees by Central/StateGovt./PSUs/Public Limited Companies, Official identity cards issued to MPs/MLAs/MLCs and Unique Disability ID (UDID) Card, issued by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry.
With the aim of spreading awareness among the voters, Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) emerged as a comprehensive programme aimed at reinforcing voter education and promoting active participation in democratic process. During the last few months, through various modes, SVEEP activities were held in every nook and corner. Various activities like appeal messages in print, electronic and social media, through hoardings, banners, radio jingles etc were carried out. Street plays, use of social media influencers and icons was also done. Because of all these, the voter turnout is expected to be higher than the last Lok Sabha election. From snow clad hills of Gulmarg to PS-1 SEEMARI in AC-1 Karnah, the district administrations carried out an exhaustive excercise to ensure maximum voter participation.
More than 40 % Home voting for above 85 age and disability was held at door steps for all those applied.
The document further read that more than 600 journalists and cameramen of print, electronic and social media platforms have been provided with pass to cover the polling process without compromising secrecy of vote and causing any inconvenience to the democratic exercise.
Besides, the Voter Turnout App will be used to display estimated provisional voter turnout details of each Parliamentary Constituency entered by the RO. The media can also use the same application to capture estimated voter turnout data. Approximate voter turnout data of each phase of the elections will be displayed through this app. There will be two hourly reporting of voting percentage from 9.00 am to the end of the poll. The concerned ARO and RO will share the data with the media accordingly. Even the updated figures will be placed in voter turnout app. These figures are always subject to , normally upward correction as the final confirmed figures are collected after recieving the statutory forms from all the polling stations. So, till these final figures are known, figures on voter turnout app are to be tentative always.
All 2103 polling stations of Baramulla PC in phase 5 will have CCTV cameras for live webcasting in total 4206 cameras and 50 additional CCTV cameras at main entrances of the polling stations. The poll day will be monitored through 24X7 Integrated Command and Control Rooms established at CEO level with latest technologies and all the polling stations will be monitored throughout the day by a tech savvy team. Also, control rooms have been set up at RO/DEO offices for parallel monitoring . There are few polling stations which fall in communication shadow areas. Suitable alternate arrangements by providing Satellite Phones, Wireless sets and Special Runners have been put in place in around a few polling stations which fall in communication shadow areas.
Candidates/ Political parties need to obtain prior permission for campaigning purposes by seeking online permission on Suvidha app. Till date election officers have accorded permission for 1859 applications and rejected 300.
In the entire Union Territory, from the date of announcement of the election till date material/cash of around Rs 89.44 crore has been seized by various enforcement departments. Besides, cash, liquor, drugs and other freebies have been seized by various enforcement departments like the Police Department, valuing Rs 85.66 crore, Income Tax Department valuing 32 lakh, Excise Department of around 92 lakh, and the Narcotics Control Bureau has seized drugs worth 2.32 crore.
As per the communication, the public campaigning in areas of Baramulla Parliamentary Constituency has concluded at 6P pm here today on 18th of May, 48 hours before conduct of the elections. No one, including citizens, journalists, politicians, would be allowed to partake in any election campaign related activity. Holding public meetings, conferences, and interviews has been stopped to give the voters a peaceful break from being influenced by campaigns so that they may make a considered decision while voting. Besides, political advertisement in print media can only be done only after prior clearance from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC). Sale of liquor, even from the licensed shops, has also been banned. Till date, 139 grievances have been received on C-VIGIL app and more than 60 % resolved in time and others are under resolution. For filing Model Code of Conduct Violation cases by the citizens, C-VIGIL app provides time-stamped evidentiary proof of the Model Code of Conduct/Expenditure Violation by empowering every citizen to click a photo or video using his or her Smartphone.
To monitor various election related activities and also check MCC compliance, a Command and Control Room has been established at CEO office, Jammu, another Srinagar Smart city and similar mini control room at every RO/DEO offices which are functioning 24 x 7. Apart from looking for MCC violation, the Control room gets live feed from more than 100% Polling Stations and GPS vehicle tracking of all vehicles being used for poll parties. The Social Media Monitoring cell and media monitoring comprising IT personnel will address fake news, misinformation, disinformation against EVMs, poll process, ECI etc and also violation of MCC and expenditure related things.
The communication also added that as per the latest instructions of Election Commission of India Special Polling Stations have been established for Migrant Voters of Kashmir division. A total of 26 Special Polling Stations have been established with 21 polling stations in Jammu, 4 in Delhi and 1 in Udhampur district respectively. Special Polling Station-wise extract voter list will be with BLOs.

Officials said the political blitzkrieg witnessed over the past few weeks from the candidates, including 14 Independents — two of whom are women — ended peacefully at 6 pm for the mandatory 48-hour “silence period” before the 13-hour-long polling on May 20. A total 2,103 polling stations, including 1,859 in rural and 244 in urban areas, have been set up to facilitate the voters to register their choice, they said, adding that all necessary arrangements, including security, have been put in place to ensure free, fair and smooth polling.
Abdullah faces the biggest challenge from separatist-turned-politician and former minister Sajad Lone, who heads the People’s Conference.
The entry of Awami Ittehad Party’s Sheikh Abdul Rashid, alias Engineer Rashid, who is lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail after his arrest in 2019 by the National Investigation Agency in a terror-funding case, has also made the contest interesting.
People’s Democratic Party candidate Fayaz Mir, a former Rajya Sabha member, is also in the fray.
The constituency recorded 34.17 per cent polling in the 2019 general elections with Kupwara district registering the highest turnout at 51.7 per cent, followed by Bandipora at 31.8 per cent and Baramulla at 24 per cent.
Two segments of Budgam were included in the constituency on the recommendations of the delimitation commission two years ago.
The last day of campaigning saw Abdullah reaching out to voters in the Beerwah constituency of Budgam, which he had won for the party in the 2014 assembly elections, while Lone was making an attempt to woo the electorate in the border township of Uri in Baramulla district.
Alongside the abrogation of Article 370, the campaigning saw the leading rivals going full throttle against each other with Abdullah and Lone bringing in the BJP to target each other, even as the saffron party is not contesting from any of the three parliamentary seats of Srinagar, Baramulla and Anantnag-Rajouri in the Valley.
The National Conference has accused the People’s Conference and its supporter the Apni Party, along with the Democratic Progressive Azad Party — headed by former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad — of having a tacit understanding with the BJP.
The Apni Party, led by former minister Altaf Bukhari, has fielded its candidates in Srinagar and Anantnag-Rajouri. It is holding rallies with the BJP in Rajouri and Poonch districts of the Jammu region.
The twin border districts are part of the reshaped Anantnag-Rajouri constituency, which will go to the polls in the sixth phase on May 25.
The recent two-day sudden visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah to Srinagar ahead of polling in Baramulla did not go down well with Abdullah, who alleged that it was to help the BJP’s “proxy” parties in the elections.
Shah, during a visit to Jammu last month, had asked people in the Valley to vote for parties other than the National Conference, Congress and the People’s Democratic Party.

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