Azad, Mehbooba Differ Over Srinagar Lok Sabha Polls Voter Turnout

SRINAGAR: Reacting to the voter turnout DPAP chief Ghulam Nabi Azad and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti reacted differently to the voter turnout in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, which went to polls on May 13.

The constituency witnessed 37.98% voter turnout in the first Lok Sabha election in the valley since the scrapping of Article 370 in 2019. The Election Commission (EC) stating that it was the “highest turnout in decades”.

Mr. Azad, Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) president, on May 14 said, “I had hoped that Kashmir will witness 80-90% turnout in view of what has been happening in the past seven to eight years. Article 370 was removed, Statehood was snatched. So I thought the turnout will be high, like 90-95%.”

“The increase of a few per cent hardly matters as it happens in every constituency of India. That way, we can not know whether the people are angry or happy (with the abrogation of Article 370 and snatching of Statehood). It is a new thing for me,” he told reporters while campaigning for his party candidate in Kulgam district.

About the rise in poll percentage in the militancy-infested areas like Tral town of Pulwama, Mr. Azad said a small increase in the turnout is normal after every election across India.

“There were some pockets affected by militancy. After 1994-95, the militancy started waning. Today the militancy is next to nothing. The areas affected by militancy also witnessed 30-40% votes and the areas which were not affected, also had similar turnout,” he added.

On the other hand, Ms. Mufti, the president of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said that the “high” voter turnout in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency polls is a message to the Centre that people have not accepted the abrogation of Article 370 and other decisions regarding Jammu and Kashmir that followed.

“Polling yesterday was good because the people wanted to send a message to Delhi that the decision taken in 2019 and afterwards with regard to our land and state subjects and jobs are not acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” she told reporters at Qazigund in Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency.

The PDP president is contesting the Lok Sabha polls from the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok sabha seat where polling is scheduled to be held on May 25.

“However, I would like to tell the Election Commission that wherever the footfall of voters was higher in favour of the PDP, the polling was deliberately made slow. I want the people of Rajouri-Poonch-Anantnag-Kulgam-Wachi to make sure that they vote even if it means standing in the queue for 10 hours,” she said.

The former chief minister said the “good” voter turnout in the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat will have a positive impact in the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency as well.

“The situation in Anatnag-Kulgam is just like that of Srinagar and Pulwama where the people feel suffocated. I am sure that a large number of people will come out to vote in Anatnag-Kulgam-Rajouri and Poonch to express their resentment and make their voice heard across the nation through the Parliament,” she added.

Out of the five Lok Sabha constituencies in J&K, Udhampur went to the polls on April 19 and Jammu on April 26. With elections held in Srinagar on Monday, the Kashmir valley voted for the first time in the Lok Sabha elections.

Elections will take place in Baramulla on May 20. After representations from some political parties, the Election Commission deferred the polls in the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency from May 7 to May 25. (PTI)

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