Anantnag-Rajouri LS seat records overall 53 % polling, highest after 1984: Pandurang Kundbarao Pole

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SRINAGAR, May 25: The Election Commission (EC) on Saturday said after a record polling percentage in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar and Baramulla, the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat too has “shattered” the voter-turnout record with 53 per cent voters exercising their franchise, the highest in 40 years.

With this, the three seats in the Kashmir valley — Srinagar (38.49 per cent), Baramulla (59.1 per cent) and Anantnag-Rajouri (53 per cent) – have recorded the highest voter turnouts “in many decades”, the poll panel said.

This was the first major election in the Union Territory following the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution by the Centre in August 2019.

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

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

Addressing reporters in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Pandurang Kundbarao Pole said the voter turnout in Anantnag-Rajouri was 53 per cent.

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

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

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

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.

Earlier in the day, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar told PTI Videos that encouraged by the voter turnout in Jammu and Kashmir, the EC will “very soon” initiate the process of holding Assembly polls in the Union Territory.

He also said the people of Jammu and Kashmir deserve their own government.

“People of Jammu and Kashmir, in the Anantnag-Rajouri polling too, have reposed faith in democracy and proved naysayers wrong,” the EC said in a statement.

According to the poll panel, the erstwhile Anantnag seat recorded the lowest turnout of 5.07 per cent in 1989 and 50.2 per cent in 1996.

Due to the delimitation exercise, the voter turnout data from previous elections for the current Anantnag-Rajouri seat may not be directly comparable, the EC noted.

A total of 20 candidates, including two women, were in the fray from Anantnag-Rajouri.

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

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

The EC had also enabled the Kashmiri migrant voters residing at various relief camps in Delhi, Jammu and Udhampur to have the option of voting in person at the designated special polling stations or through postal ballots. A total of 21 special polling stations were set up in Jammu, one in Udhampur and four in Delhi.

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