Rajouri sees enthusiastic early morning polling

November 23rd, 2008 - 1:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyRajouri (Jammu and Kashmir), Nov 23 (IANS) People hurried to finish off their morning chores and prayers early Sunday to be among the first to cast their votes in Rajouri district that saw long queues of people, many first-timers, in Jammu and Kashmir.”It is better to be early at the polling booths,” Asha Sharma, a first-time voter, said when asked what was the hurry to vote so early in the mid-November chill. “I want to experience the thrill of being the first to vote,” she said.

But she has competition from her college mates. There are five other girls who also came out early.

Rajouri has four seats of Darhal, Rajouri, Kalakote and Nowshera going to polls Sunday in the second of the seven-phase voting for Jammu and Kashmir’s 87 seats.

The local issues of road connectivity, schools, water and electricity have drawn the voters to the polling booths. “We want a change in the whole set-up here. There is extreme backwardness in all spheres, we want that to be removed,” said Neetu Gupta, part of the group of the girls.

Rajouri’s four seats are among the six going to the polls in the second phase.

Some enthusiastic voters were even moving around the streets calling out people, urging them to vote early. “Come out,” shouted Tasaduq Hussain, a shopkeeper to his neighbhour Shiv Malhotra. He continued: “Otherwise, we will have to stand in the queue for a long time.”

This Muslim majority district, where half a million of the population live in hilly villages, is unmoved by the poll boycott call of the separatists. This district, like the neighbouring Poonch that went to polls in first phase Nov 17, is expected to witness good voter turnout.

“It is time to vote, the boycott would only damage our cause for development,” Raufullah Lone, a retired teacher says as he watches young people rushing to the polling booths.

There are 59 candidates in the fray. While all major regional and national political parties, Congress, National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Bharatiya Janata Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have put up their candidates, there are a host of independents too.

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