Voters' Enthusiasm Dips In Jammu And Kashmir's Phase-5 Election

8 May 2014
The New Indian Express

Srinagar: The enthusiasm seen among voters during the first two phases of polling in the Jammu province was missing in all five phases of elections in the six Parliamentary seats - two in Jammu, three in Kashmir and one in Ladakh - in Jammu and Kashmir. The Jammu-Poonch parliamentary seat, where the BJP's Jugal Kishore, the Congress' sitting MP Madan Lal Sharma and PDP's Yash Pal Sharma were the main contenders, went to the polls in the first phase on April 10. The constituency recorded 68 per cent voter turnout, 18.29 more than the poll percentage recorded in the 2009 elections. In 2009, Jammu recorded 49.06 per cent voter turnout. The Udhampur-Doda Parliamentary seat, where senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad contested his first Lok Sabha election from his home state, went to the polls on April 17. The constituency witnessed 69 per cent polling, 24 per cent higher than the 2009 figure. The main contest is between Azad and BJP nominee Dr Jitendra Singh. After the election in Jammu, the attention shifted to the Valley. The Anantnag-Pulwama Lok Sabha constituency went to the polls in the third phase on April 24 and witnessed 28 per cent polling. The fourth phase of polling was held in Srinagar, which was by and large peaceful. The Srinagar constituency recorded 26 per cent voter turnout, 0.45 per cent higher than the 2009 figure. The fifth and final phase of polling was held on May 7 in two Parliamentary constituencies - Baramulla-Kupwara in Kashmir and Ladakh. Baramulla witnessed 39.6 per cent turnout, lower than the turnout in the 2009 polls. Ladakh recorded 65 per cent voter turnout, which too was lower than the 2009 figure. 'Voter turnout was on the higher side in the Jammu province due to the 'Modi wave' and presence of Ghulam Nabi Azad as a candidate from Udhampur parliamentary seat. Both the Congress and BJP mobilised people and it lead to high voter turnout,' said political analyst Noor Mohammad Baba, who teaches at the University of Kashmir. Referring to the voting percentage in Kashmir, Baba said: 'Kashmir is a complex situation. There is unpredictability.' The poll boycott, militants' threat, the attack on political workers and other factors lead to the low voter turnout in the Valley, he added.