JAMMU: After a record turnout of voters in the previous four phases, high-voltage campaigning for the fifth and final leg of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, to be held on December 20, ended on Thursday, with a number of high-profile candidates, including Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, trying their luck at the hustings in the 20 seats.
High-pitched campaigning went on unaffected by the November 27 militant attack in Arnia border belt of Jammu district in which 12 people - 5 civilians, 3 security men and 4 militants - were killed.
As many as 213 candidates, including Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, Ministers Sham Lal Sharma, Raman Bhalla, Manohar Lal Sharma, Ajay Sadhotra, former MP and Ministers Lal Singh, Talib Hussain (both BJP) and Jitendra Babu Singh and former Deputy Speaker Hyder Malik will be battling it out for 20 Assembly seats of Jammu, Rajouri and Kathua districts.
An official of the Election Commission said that 12 candidates withdrew their nominations on the last day yesterday, leaving 213 candidates in the fray.
In view of the high turnout in previous phases in Kashmir Valley compared to previous polls, Jammu is expected to have a high voter turnout.
"Campaigning has ended at 1600 hours today. It was a peaceful campaigning and we expect a high voter turnout," Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K, Umang Narula told PTI.
As many as 18,28,904 eligible voters, comprising 9,59,011 men and 8,69,891 women, will exercise their franchise at 2,366 polling stations set up across the three border districts.
BJP has high stakes in this phase as it had got the most (10) seats in 2008 Assembly elections followed by Congress with 5 seats, NC 2, PDP 1 and two seats going to Independents.
BJP fired up its campaigning with all the top guns led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Smiti Irani, Uma Bharati, J P Nadda, Dr Jitendra Singh, and star campaigners Vinod Khanna, Hema Malini, Navjot Singh Sidhu wooing voters.
Modi adressed 4 rallies in Rajouri, Jammu, Billawar and Kathua Assembly segments and appealed the people to give BJP a majority to ensure development and oust the dynastic rule of NC, PDP and Congress.