Srinagar: Campaigning ended on Friday for the fourth phase of Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir, which will see voting on 18 seats with a total of 182 candidates in the fray, including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
Over 14.73 lakh voters, including 7.05 lakh women, are eligible to exercise their franchise on polling day on Dec. 14 across 1,890 polling stations in four districts of the state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and Bollywood actor and MP Vinod Khanna have campaigned in J-K for the BJP candidates who are contesting in the fourth phase on Sunday.
BJP, which is making its first serious bid for power in the state, has come out all guns blazing to make its presence felt in the Valley.
But not to be outdone, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Saifuddin Soz, too, have held rallies in favour of their candidates.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who is contesting from the Sonawar Assembly segment in Srinagar district, was the star campaigner for the ruling National Conference and crisscrossed the four districts to promote his party's cause and canvass for votes for its candidates.
Omar also contested from Beerwah seat in Budgam district which voted in the third phase of polling.
The opposition PDP had its patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and party president Mehbooba Mufti turning out to seek votes. Sayeed, a former chief minister of J-K, is contesting from the Anantnag segment in south Kashmir.
Among the other prominent contestants in the fourth phase are Assembly Speaker Mubarak Gul, Omar's close confidant Nasir Aslam Wani, Congress ministers Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed and Ghulam Ahmad Mir, and senior PDP leaders Abdul Rehman Veeri and Altaf Bukhari.
Campaigning in the four districts -- Srinagar, Anantnag, Samba and Shopian -- was by and large peaceful although militants hurled a grenade at a police station in Anantnag town last night, resulting in injuries to three policemen.
Suspected ultras also planted an IED under a culvert in Shopian district yesterday but the explosive was detected and neutralised by security forces.
Omar and Sayeed are being seen as the front-runners for the post of chief minister of J-K depending on how their parties perform in the Assembly polls, for which the fifth and final phase of voting is scheduled for December 20.
Of the 18 seats going to polls on Sunday, National Conference had won nine in 2008 while PDP bagged six seats. Of the remaining three, Congress had won two with National Panthers Party taking one seat in Samba in Jammu region.
While the first three phases of elections in the Valley witnessed a high voter turnout despite a call for boycott by separatists and the threat of militants trying to disrupt the process, polling day will be keenly watched in Srinagar and some parts of Shopian and Anantnag districts where turnouts have generally been low.
The polling process will come to an end in Kashmir Valley on December 14 as all the 20 seats going to polls on December 20 are in Jammu region.