Udhampur: Balloting was sluggish in this Lok Sabha constgituency in Jammu and Kashmir Thursday, with just 10 percent votes cast in the six districts in the first two hours of polling, officials said.

While Kathua assembly segment topped the voting tally at over 17 percent till 9 a.m., Kishtwar polled the lowest with a little over seven percent votes.

Voting was dull in the three Chenab valley districts of Ramban, Kishtwar and Doda.

The other three districts – Kathua, Reasi and Udhampur – saw comparatively more voting.

Voters in far-flung areas of Ramban district were rather less enthusiastic about casting their ballots than those in economically better-off areas.

Gul Muhammad, 75, cast his vote at the Ramsu high school polling station in Ramban.

“I have been voting all my life. My vote has improved the economic condition of politicians, but mine remains unchanged. I have again cast my vote today, hoping that things will change, but I have little hope,” he said.

Of the 457 voters, just 40 had cast their ballot at Gul Muhammad’s polling station till 9 a.m.

In comparison, 103-year-old Masu Ram who cast his vote at the Hira Nagar polling station in Kathua district, said he came to exercise his democratic right fearing this could be his last chance to do so, given his old age.

“This could be my last vote in the Lok Sabha elections. I cannot afford to let it go waste,” Masu Ram told reporters.

Voters at one polling station in Bani area of Kathua told reporters they were boycotting the election because nobody has paid any attention to the development of their area.

“No development, no vote,” people said.

There are 13 candidates in the fray in Udhampur, but the main contest is between union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress, BJP candidate Jitender Singh and Arshad Malik of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

There are 14.38 lakh voters in the constituency, including Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs who are voting at 2,051 polling stations Thursday.

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Free Press Journal