Valley candidates: 30% jump over 96
15 September 2002
The Indian Express
New Delhi: For all the threats from militants and the anti-poll propaganda by Pakistan and Hurriyat, the number of candidates contesting in the Kashmir Valley in the first phase, leading to the Monday polls, has increased by over 30 per cent compared to the 1996 assembly elections. In the 15 constituencies of the Valley that were due to have elections in the first phase, the number of candidates who remained in the fray after September 2, the last date of withdrawal, is 105. The number who contested in the last Assembly elections in 1996 from those constituencies was only 80. The number of candidates has increased in nine out of the 15 Valley constituencies covered by the first phase. Baramulla, which has earned the distinction of having the highest number of candidates, has seen an increase from seven candidates in 1996 to 13. This is partly accounted for by the doubling of independent candidates from three to six. The most dramatic increase was in Lolab, where the election had to be countermanded following the assassination earlier this week of J&K Law Minister Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, who was a candidate there. In the 1996 elections, there were only four candidates in Lolab. But this time, the number had almost tripled — 11. The increase in the candidates in the Valley in the first phase seems all the more significant given that the trend is somewhat the other way in the seven Jammu constituencies going to the polls the same day. The number of candidates has gone down in four out of these seven constituencies. This despite the fact that there is no change in the total number of candidates in those seven constituencies. It has remained 50, as in the 1996 elections.