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Srinagar turnout : Article 370; divided opinions

Opinions are divided about the reasons behind the relatively high turnout. It is actually the highest turnout since the militancy erupted in Jammu and Kashmir. 

News Arena Network - Srinagar - UPDATED: May 15, 2024, 11:21 PM - 5 mins read

A woman displays her inked finger after casting a vote in Srinagar. The Srinagar voter turnout has led to various politicians voicing varying opinions.

Srinagar turnout : Article 370; divided opinions

A woman displays her inked finger after casting a vote in Srinagar.


After a long time, the Srinagar parliamentary constituency and the summer capital city of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed the highest 38.3 per cent turnout.

 

Opinions are divided about the reasons behind the relatively high turnout. It is actually the highest turnout since the militancy erupted in Jammu and Kashmir. 

 

Although in the 1996 General Elections, the turnout recorded was 40.9 per cent, it was disputed amid reports of bogus voting to jack up the turnout figures that time when militancy was at its peak and militants had called for a boycott. 

 

This time around, there was no boycott call. The militancy has almost finished although there are some isolated incidents reported now and then. Srinagar looks like any other city in the country. More so during the tourist season, it bustles with a lot of activity with tens of thousands of tourists from across the country converging on it. 

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attributed the high turnout to the abrogation of Article 370. “The abrogation of Article 370 has enabled the potential and aspirations of the people to find full expression. Happening at the grassroots level, it is great for the people of J&K, in particular the youth”. Prime Minister Modi wrote on X. 

 

Union Home Minister Amit Shah also attributed it to the abrogation of Article 370, saying, “It has enhanced people’s trust in democracy and its roots have deepened in Jammu and Kashmir. 

 

On the other hand, former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah of the National Conference preferred not to react to the relatively higher turnout.

 

However, another former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti reacted along the expected lines, suggesting the higher turnout was an expression of anger against the abrogation of Article 370. “People wanted to send a message to Delhi that your decision in 2019 (to abrogate Article 370) or other decisions after that related to our land, state subject status, and jobs are not acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Rajouri-Poonch and Jammu”.

 

Another former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, an ex-Congress veteran who quit the Congress and formed his own Democratic People Azad Party was more balanced in his reaction. He observed that the 38 per cent voter turnout was not adequate to draw any conclusions on whether people approved or disapproved of the abrogation of Article 370.

 

In fact, Azad was most pragmatic in his opinion. The abrogation of Article 370 is an irreversible thing now. Those people in Kashmir, who were opposed to the abrogation also realise that it simply cannot be undone. No political party, worth its salt can ever imagine to reverse it, leave aside doing it actually. 

 

People in Kashmir seem to have gradually, but reluctantly, accepted the reality and irreversibility of the abrogation of Article 370. The 38 per cent voter turnout in Srinagar is indicative of that reluctant acceptance and resignation to their fate in a positive sense. In case people had any reservations or anger against the abrogation of Article 370, they would have definitely boycotted the elections and abstained from voting, which they did not. 

 

38 per cent voter turnout in a constituency like Srinagar is not that low. Even in the rest of the country, the turnout in urban dominated constituencies mostly remains in the range of 40 to 50 percent only. 

 

Whether the people of Kashmir have liked it or not, one thing is certain they have accepted the reality and irreversibility of the abrogation of Article 370. They seem to have made up their mind to move on. There are so many other factors also responsible for that. As the communication between Kashmir and the rest of the country increased and expanded, various misplaced and baseless doubts in people’s minds about the rest of India started clearing.

 

There is also a realisation that come what may, India will never let Kashmir secede. More so with a robust and assertive nationalistic government at the helm, it is unimaginable.

 

Another important factor has been the implosion of Pakistan, which is in perpetual crisis. It is under these circumstances that people of Kashmir seem to have reconciled themselves to participate in the mainstream and not to let themselves be left out. 

 

Resorting to debate on voter turnout and relating it to the abrogation of Article 370 does not make any sense.

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