Will Kashmir cross the 50% vote mark? Parties expect turnout effect in


The highest poll in almost three decades in , at 38%, is interpreted differently in different circles. Now all eyes are
on what this means for Kashmir’s two remaining Lok Sabha seats, which will vote on May 20 and 25.

Traditionally, Baramulla, which votes next, and Anantnag (now renamed Anantnag-Rajouri) have seen higher voting than Srinagar.
Lok Sabha seat. With areas of province now included in Anantnag, the overall poll in Kashmir is expected to cross the 50% mark –
which would be even higher than the 1996 elections, marred by allegations of forced voting.

In an interview with The Hindu, published on Wednesday, Home Minister Amit Shah repeated the BJP’s statement that the
The vote in Srinagar was “the greatest testimony to the rightness of the decision” to revoke Article 370.

On the other hand, Kashmir’s major parties, such as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC), said the vote in Srinagar reflected the pent-up frustration of the valley’s residents, who seized the first opportunity to “reject” the bill. Disposal by the Center
The special status of J&K.

“Srinagar voters turned out in large numbers, driven by a sense of suffocation and a desire to reject the measures taken
August 5, 2019,” former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said at an election rally in south Kashmir on Tuesday. Mufti, who is
facing a tough contest for the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat against senior Gujjar leader and NC stalwart Mian Altaf and the Apni Party.
Zafar Iqbal Manhas also called on the people to go to the polls in large numbers during the May 25 elections in the constituency.

“I appeal to the people of Anantnag-Rajouri constituency not to return home without queuing, even if it takes you 10 hours in the queue.
your vote. There are elements who want to prevent people from voting,” said the Mufti. Polling in the seat was scheduled for May 7, but was postponed at the last moment by the Election Commission (EC), citing unfavorable weather conditions and a demand from political parties to
do it. The PDP and NC, which opposed the postponement, termed the move as a ploy by the Center to make it more difficult for regional parties like them to participate.

Meanwhile, officials as well as party leaders have said privately that they expected a higher turnout in Srinagar. There was
visible enthusiasm among the public, who have been under central rule for almost six years now, to vote. Election rallies saw enthusiastic participation, particularly from young people, with election campaigns venturing into areas where traditional political leaders would not otherwise venture.

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Unlike in previous years, there were no calls to boycott the polls from separatist organizations such as the Hurriyat Conference, Jamaat-e-Islami or militant groups.


On May 13, voting exceeded previous levels in all five districts belonging to Srinagar headquarters – Srinagar, Ganderbal, Pulwama and
parts of Budgam and Shopian (the last two new additions after delimitation). Srinagar district recorded 24.71% votes, compared to 7.7%
in 2019; Pulwama 42%, compared to only 2% last time, when it was part of the Anantnag seat; Ganderbal, 53.02% (17.6% in 2019); Budgam 52%
(21.5% in 2019) ; et Shopian 47% (2.88% in 2019).

Baramulla has been less influenced by calls for a separatist boycott, while voting in Anantnag has seen its ups and downs over the years. In 2019,
while Baramulla recorded a turnout of 39.1%, Anantnag, a PDP stronghold, saw results drop to less than 10% amid anger over the vote.
the party’s alliance with the BJP to form the government.

Anantnag, after delimitation, includes Poonch and a large part of Rajouri district, which has traditionally seen a polling rate above 70%.

Baramulla, which has consistently voted in higher numbers than other parts of Kashmir – barring Sopore and Baramulla Assembly segments – is also expected to witness an impressive turnout given the high-voltage contest here . NC Vice President and former CM Omar Abdullah is standing
against People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone, independent candidate Engineer Rashid and PDP’s Fayaz Ahmad Mir.

A senior mainstream leader said the voter turnout cannot be seen as divorced from separatist sentiment and in fact reflects anger over the abrogation of J&K’s special status. “If you also look at the choice of candidates in Srinagar, you will see it. PDP candidate Waheed ur Rahman Para was able to get people out because he suffered in jail. Even Mehbooba ji said that you () sent it to
prison, and we will send it to Parliament. Even Aga Ruhullah has been a radical voice within the NC (against the party’s position on the issue of
repeal and its participation in district development council polls). Voting for him also means voting for his language of resistance,” he said.

In Baramulla’s case, the leader said, voter turnout could also be influenced by the same sentiment. “If you see engineer Rashid, for example, his campaign is entirely based on separatist sentiments. » Rashid is contesting the elections from Delhi’s Tihar Jail, where he has been incarcerated since 2019 following his arrest by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in an alleged money laundering case linked to terror financing in the Valley.

An NC leader also said he expects turnout to increase further in the next two phases as it is a vote “against the repeal of the special status”. “The turnout in Srinagar will also give a boost to other constituencies,” the leader said.

Past electoral participation (in %)

  • 2019 : 14 Srinagar ; 9 Anantnag; 39.14 Baramulla
  • 2014 : 26 ; 29 ; 39
  • 2009 : 26 ; 27 ; 41
  • 2004 : 19 ; 15 ; 36
  • 1999 : 12 ; 14 ; 28
  • 1998 : 30 ; 28 ; 42
  • 1996 : 41 ; 47 ; 50


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