Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Opposition PDP’s chief ministerial candidate Mufti Mohammad Sayeed are among the 821 candidates, who are seeking election from the 87 constituencies.

While Omar is contesting from Beerwah seat in Budgam district and Sonawar seat in Srinagar, Sayeed is seeking re-election from Anantnag Assembly segment in the south Kashmir district.

Most of the observers will keenly watch the result of Handwara Assembly constituency in north Kashmir Kupwara district, where separatist-turned mainstream politician Sajjad Gani Lone is trying his luck.

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Most political observers and opinion polls are predicting a hung Assembly in the state with no party getting a clear majority.

Rumours are afloat about various political parties trying to work out an alliance, depending on the numbers thrown up post the declaration of results on Tuesday.

BJP has launched a scathing attack on its rival Congress on the national scene, and both regional players—National Conference and PDP. These parties, while hitting out at BJP, have not spared each other as well.

The National Conference and Congress, which were coalition partners for the past six years in the state but decided to go alone in the Assembly polls, fought a bitter war of words during the election campaign.

PDP, which ruled the state from 2002 to 2008 in coalition with Congress, also criticised its opponents.

The ongoing elections will be a litmus test as much for BJP, which is making its first serious foray in Jammu and Kashmir to form a government, and Congress, which will be hoping to stay relevant in the state politics following the massive rout in the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year.

BJP launched an aggressive campaign as part of its ‘Mission 44+’ — the magic number required for simple majority in the state Assembly — during which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several top leaders of the party addressed election rallies across the state.

The results will be a reflection of BJP’s assessment of its chances of making inroads into the only Muslim-majority state of the country.

The party did not name a chief ministerial candidate. BJP had 11 MLAs in the 11 Legislative Assembly and any increase in the tally this year will be claimed as a Modi victory.

Omar’s National Conference, which was the single-largest part in 2008 polls winning 28 seats, is facing an uphill task to retain its position.

While the NC is already claiming a victory, some party leaders are giving away a sense of uneasiness over the results.

Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, uncle of the current Chief Minister, said, the National Conference will sit in the Opposition, if it did not have the numbers to form the next government.

Congress, which had 17 MLAs, on the other hand has softened the election rhetoric. Instead of claiming to be the single-largest party, the party leaders are maintaining that no government formation will be possible without Congress involvement.

PDP, which had 21 members in the 11th Assembly, is expecting to be the single-largest party, riding on the anti-incumbency and anger among the flood victims.

However, the party leadership is silent about any post-poll alliance so far.

The voter turnout in the state this year was 65 per cent which was 4 per cent more than the last Assembly elections held in 2008 — a development which has generated hope as well as anxiety among all major political parties.

While the ruling National Conference is claiming that higher voter turnout will benefit it at the hustings, PDP and BJP are maintaining that it is a reflection of the people’s desire for a change.

The first phase of elections for 15 Assembly seats held on November 25 saw 72 per cent electorate exercising their franchise, while the second phase of polling for 18 seats also recorded same turnout figures.

The turnout fell to 58 per cent in the third phase of polling for 16 seats but was still better by nearly nine per cent compared to 2008 polls.

The fourth phase of polls for 18 seats also recorded comparatively low turnout of 49 per cent. Like thirds phase, it was four per cent higher than 2008 polls for these seats.

The fifth phase of elections for 20 seats, all in Jammu region, also saw over 76 per cent voter turnout.

The high voter turnout signalled an end to boycott politics in Kashmir, as even some areas considered to be separatist strongholds voted in larger numbers.

Sopore constituency, hometown of hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, recorded a turnout of 30 per cent which was 10 per cent higher than 2008.

The eight constituencies of Srinagar city, which had a combined turnout of 21.5 per cent in 2008, also saw the voter turnout go up by 6.5 per cent this year.

Militants made desperate attempts to derail the electoral process by carrying out sensational attacks on army camps at Arnia area of Jammu and Uri in Kashmir.

They also killed three sarpanches while injuring two other political workers in attacks spanning over the five phases of polling, which came to an end on Saturday.

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