Today: Jun 19, 2024

South Kashmir’s Date With Democracy

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Anantnag-Rajouri LS constituency registers 53% turnout; overall aggregate turnout for 5 Lok Sabha seats in J&K stands at 58%: CEO

Srinagar: From 9 per cent in 2019 LS polls, south Kashmir, minus Rajouri-Poonch segments, recorded nearly 43% polling today with Kulgam recording the lowest, 32%.

The LS seat now constitutes 11 constituencies from south Kashmir and seven constituencies from Rajouri and Poonch.

The entire constituency has almost 18.30 lakh votes with south Kashmir accounting for 60% and Rajouri-Poonch 40%.

If the latest Election Commission data is taken note of, both south Kashmir and Rajouri-Poonch have polled more than four and a half lakh votes each.

Meanwhile, the officials said that the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency, carved after fresh delimitation, recorded a 53 percent voter turnout on Saturday, as polling for the five Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir came to an end.

Fifty-eight percent of the 87.26-lakh electorate exercised their franchise in the first major election in the Union Territory following the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution by the Centre in August 2019. This is the highest voter turnout recorded in Jammu and Kashmir in 40 years.

The high voter turnout in the Anantnag-Rajouri seat was in sharp contrast to the poll percentage of 9 registered in the 2019 general election.

Even the militancy-infested Zainapora Assembly segment, which registered a turnout of 2 percent in 2019, recorded a poll percentage of 41.

Addressing reporters at the conclusion of the polling process, Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Pandurang Kundbarao Pole said the voter turnout in Anantnag-Rajouri was 53 percent.

He said the overall voter turnout for the five Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir stood at 58 percent.

“It is the highest turnout for these five seats in the last 40 years. The previous high was 49 percent recorded in 2014, while the turnout in 1996 was 47.99 percent,” Pole added.

He said the Surankote, Rajouri and Budhal Assembly segments recorded the highest turnout of 68 percent.

The Kulgam Assembly segment recorded the lowest poll percentage of 32.

Pole said the polling was by and large peaceful, with no violence reported from anywhere.

Officials said barring an “isolated incident” in Bijbehara, polling was smooth across the Lok Sabha constituency that comprises 18 Assembly segments and is spread over the five districts of Anantnag, Kulgam,  Shopian, Poonch and Rajouri.

In a delimitation exercise carried out in Jammu and Kashmir in 2022, Pulwama district and the Shopian Assembly segment were removed from the South Kashmir Lok Sabha seat, while seven Assembly segments from Poonch and Rajouri were added to it.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti is contesting the polls from Anantnag-Rajouri and is up against the National Conference’s (NC) Mian Altaf Ahmad. Apni Party’s Zafar Iqbal Manhas is also among the 20 candidates in the fray.

The polling began at 7 am and continued till 7 pm at some places.

In the old Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency, the turnout in 2019 was around 9 percent while in 2014, it was close to 29 percent.

In the 11 Assembly segments falling in the Kashmir valley, the poll percentage is around 42.

An octogenarian displays his inked finger after casting his vote (L), and CEC, P K Pole addresses the media after the conclusion of LS polls in UT of J&K. Photos/ Farooq Javed