BB Desk
BB Desk

Udhampur/Jammu, Apr 19: Accompanied by his friends dressed in traditional attires, a groom decked up in sherwani and colourful headgear was among the first to cast his vote at a polling booth in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur as the first phase of the Lok Sabha election began Friday.Polling started at 7 am amid inclement weather conditions in the Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency spread over the five districts of Udhampur, Kathua, Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar.Kapil Gupta got married Thursday and exercised his franchise at a polling booth set up on the premises of the Jammu and Kashmir Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes & Backward Classes Development Corporation Limited in Udhampur town soon after returning home Friday morning.”Voting is our right and must be done on priority,” he said, requesting voters to vote in large numbers.Another newly married couple, Sahil and Radhika, turned up in wedding costumes at a polling station set up in a school in Udhampur.”We got married only yesterday (Thursday) and I told my husband that we should vote. My vote is not here but I accompanied him,” the bride said.”I will be visiting my parents later in the day in a nearby village to fulfil my democratic responsibility as well,” she added.Voting is scheduled to end at 6 pm and will decide the fate of 12 candidates, including Union minister Jitendra Singh who is seeking re-election for his third consecutive term.Singh faces a major challenge from Congress candidate and two-time former MP Choudhary Lal Singh, while the presence of DPAP candidate G M Saroori makes the contest a triangular one.According to election officials, voting was going on peacefully across the constituency with heavy rainfall being reported in Kathua district since this morning.The rains failed to dampen spirits and voters were seen thronging polling stations, braving the inclement weather.”It is my first vote on attaining the age of 18 and I was waiting for this moment,” Vanshika Sharma, a resident of Bhaderwah in Doda district, said.Meenakshi was the first to vote at the ‘pink’ polling station in the town and expressed satisfaction over the arrangements.Mool Raj, another voter, was happy to be presented a bouquet for being the first to vote at a polling station in Bhaderwah.”I have voted for a candidate I think can work for the development of the district and the country,” Ashish Kumar said after casting his vote in Udhampur.Meenakshi Devi (40) said her vote is for the country’s development.(PTI)