The Bold Voice of J&K

POLL DIVIDE

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Defying separatists’ election boycott call and braving cold weather, voters turnning out in large numbers  in the first phase of  Assembly elections to record over 70 per cent polling without any incident in 15 constituencies in the first of the five- phase polls in Jammu and Kashmir is the victory of democracy. In 2002, 71 per cent voters registered their vote in Uri, 60 per cent in Gulmarg, 62 per cent in Chrar-e-Sharief, 61 per cent in Khansahib, 52 per cent in Pattan, 50 per cent each in Chadoora and Budgam, 48 per cent in Beerwah, 45 per cent in Sangrama and 40 per cent in Rafiabad. Urban Srinagar district however has never touched double figures in polling since the outbreak of militancy in 1990. In 2002, Amira Kadal registered a meagre 3.06 per cent polling with Batamaloo at 4 per cent, Hazratbal polled 7.11 per cent. The massive turn out in the 2008 Assembly polls prompted former separatist Sajjad Lone to embrace mainstream politics. The militancy-infested areas of Sopore and Tral in north and south Kashmir respectively, prove to be the exception with fear of terror attacks paralysing voters. The 2008 polling percentage marked an increase from 35.2 per cent in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. The boycott call by separatists would not be very effective if not for the fact that anti-India sentiments dominate the minds of urban voters. But even in the urban Kashmir, voters remain divided about their electoral priorities so there is every likely-hood the urban voter bothering not to vote. Rural voters usually have a close-knit community culture which the changing socio-economic status has eradicated from the urban landscape. Both the illiterate and the educated among rural voters turn out in bulk to vote with hopes of securing government jobs including daily wage tasks through the influence of their local representatives. They also pledge their votes for better infrastructure. Will this prevailing divide can be reversed for ‘vote for a change’ to usher in a better tomorrow is to be seen?

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