J&K Turnout A Vote For Democracy: PM, Sonia

27 December 2008
The Indian Express

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday said the massive turnout in Jammu and Kashmir was a 'vote for democracy' with the party chief saying it is a 'lesson to be learnt by our neighbours', an apparent reference to Pakistan. Singh and Gandhi said who wins in Jammu and Kashmir is a 'secondary issue' and what matters is that the people have expressed faith in the democratic system. 'The large turnout of voters is a vote for democracy. It is a vote for national integration. As far as who wins or who loses is a secondary issue,' Singh told reporters on the sidelines of a function to mark the 123rd Foundation Day of the Congress Party. Echoing the Prime Minister's remarks, Gandhi said 'I have been saying from the very beginning that it doesn't matter who wins, what matters is that the people of the valley, the people of Jammu, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have placed their full faith in the democratic system which is a lesson to be learnt by our neighbours.' Gandhi said she had been in favour of timely elections from the very beginning. 'I have been saying from the very beginning that elections should be held in time and I am glad that they were held in time,' the Congress President said. The uproar over the allotment of forest land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board and subsequent political upheaval had led to Governor's Rule in the state and raised doubts over timely conduct of elections. The seven-phase elections in the state, which concluded on December 24, saw 61 per cent of the total electorate exercising their franchise.