Srinagar/Ranchi: Amidst security alert about possible Maoist attacks on politicians in Jharkhand and militant groups' poll boycott call in Jammu and Kashmir, the stage was set for the first of staggered assembly elections in the two states on Tuesday.
The first phase will cover 15 seats in Jammu and Kashmir, where 12 sitting MLAs, including seven ministers, are among 123 candidates are trying their luck, and 13 Maoists-affected constituencies in Jharkhand.
While in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah- led National Conference (NC) is fighting against main opposition People?s Democratic Party (PDP), BJP and Congress in a multi-cornered contest, ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) headed by Chief Minister Hemant Soren will be seeking to retain power in the face of a challenge by BJP.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP's star campaigner, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi and Omar spearheaded the campaign in the run up to the first phase of polling.
While Modi asked voters to opt for a change of guard in both the states by seeking an end to dynastic rule, the Gandhis had accused BJP of a divisive agenda and making false promises of inclusive development.
Security agencies in Jharkhand were put on alert following intelligence inputs suggesting that Naxals were planning to attacks leaders of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM).
Intelligence agencies also intercepted conversations of leaders of Pakistan-based militant groups Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad with local commanders in Jammu and Kashmir asking them to ensure boycott of coming assembly elections.
The separatist groups like all factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF have called for a boycott of the polls tomorrow and called for a general strike as well.