According to the data provided by the state election authorities, 1,344 candidates contested the 2008 Assembly elections to the 87-member House but the number this year fell to 821. The number of Independent candidates fell by more than 46 per cent from 513 in 2008 to 276 this year.

While the Independents constituted more than 36 per cent of the total candidates in 2008, only four (around five per cent) of them were successful. The state Assembly elections in 2008 were held in the backdrop of Amarnath Land row agitation that led to the fall of Ghulam Nabi Azad-led Congress-PDP coalition government and polarised the state polity on regional and religious lines.

Coming close on the heels of the killing of more than 60 persons across the state – most of the death took place in the Valley, the voter turnout was expected to take a dip. However, not only did the voter turnout showed an upward swing, the number of candidates who contested the polls became a state record.

This year the elections were announced when the state, mostly the Valley, was still reeling under the after-effects of the century’s worst floods. The number of candidates dropped substantially across the 87 constituencies but the voter turnout continued the upward trend.

Jammu West constituency had the highest number of 34 candidates in 2008 but this year, it has only 15 contestants. In Kashmir, Amirakadal constituency had 29 candidates six years ago which came down to 14 this year. Batamaloo constituency in the city had the highest number of 16 candidates.

In the 2008 elections, Nobra constituency in Ladakh region had the lowest number of four candidates but this year, nearby Leh constituency had just two candidates. 40 of the 87 constituencies had less than 10 candidates in the fray. Six years ago, 78 constituencies had more than candidates vying to become a lawmaker of the state. In fact, 18 constituencies had more than 20 contestants while several others had 19 candidates. Only nine constituencies had less than 10 candidates in 2008 Assembly polls.

The fate of the 821 contestants will be known on December 23 when counting of votes will be held.

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