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Why J&K will remember the 2008 polls

By Syed Ali Safvi
December 24, 2008 00:39 IST
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The 2008 assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be remembered for a host of reasons.  Post 1996, it is the first election which has passed off peacefully, without any major untoward incident marring the process. In the wake of the election boycott call given by the separatists, the voter turnout, particularly in the conflict-ridden valley of Kashmir, has been much higher than expected.

There are certain aspects about this election that cannot be brushed aside. Even those who braved the bitter cold and waited for hours outside polling stations, reiterated that they were casting their vote for the development of the valley and that 'Azaadi' runs through their veins.

Over 1,354 candidates, including 468 independent candidates and 67 women contestants, are in the fray for the 87-member Assembly. As many as 1,354 candidates, including 78 from the Congress, 85 from the National Conference, 64 from the Bharatiya Janata Party and 78 from the People's Democratic Party are contesting this time.

Total assets declared by the candidates, in their affidavits filed before the respective returning officers, sum up to a whopping Rs 7,769,012,944. The NC has the maximum number of crorepati candidates (33), followed by the PDP (18), the Congress (17) and the BJP (8).

The PDP is fielding a number of young candidates, with as many as 22 candidates below the age of 35. The NC, with 18 candidates below the age of 35, is at number two, followed by the BJP and Congress with 15 each.

The 2008 assembly election has also witnessed unprecedented participation by women -- as voters and as candidates.

There were only 29 women candidates in the fray for the 2002 assembly elections. The number has more than doubled this time.

In 1972, four women candidates were elected to the state legislature, and that remains the highest number of women legislators in the state. The record is likely to change this time.

The PDP has fielded nine women contestants, followed by the BJP (5), the Congress (4), and the NC (2).

Like all other poll-bound states, J&K also has its share of candidates with criminal cases registered against them. The NC has fielded five such candidates, followed by the PDP (2), the BJP (2), and the Congress (1). 

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Syed Ali Safvi