Jammu And Kashmir Has Record Voter Turnout: 10 Developments

25 November 2014
NDTV
Nazir Masoodi

Srinagar: With long queues and brisk polling through the day, Jammu and Kashmir today recorded a 71.28 per cent voter turnout in the first phase of Assembly elections, its highest in 25 years. Many people were still waiting to vote beyond the scheduled close of polling at 4 pm. The turnout in this phase is a big increase over the 64.97 per cent in the last Assembly elections in these areas, the Election Commission said, also noting that voting was peaceful. It credited the turnout to 'good security, confidence building and the zeal of voters.' For the first time in 25 years, people ignored a boycott call by separatists to line up in large numbers to vote. The separatists issued the customary call for boycott, but did not carry out any anti-election campaign and despite the bitter cold, voters queued up at polling stations much before polling began at 7 am. One physically challenged man crawled a kilometre to reach the polling station at Barsoo in Ganderbal. He said he was voting for 'development.' At the same polling station which saw just one vote cast in the parliamentary elections earlier this year, there was brisk polling today. Voting was held in 15 of Jammu and Kashmir's 87 constituencies - six seats in the Chenab Valley, five segments in north Kashmir and four in Ladakh. The turnout in constituencies in north Kashmir was a notch higher than those in Chenab Valley and Ladakh. No militancy-related incident was reported in Jammu and Kashmir today. The higher voter turnout could upset the calculations of all political parties. For the first time, there is a four-way battle between the Congress, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's National Conference, the Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP, which has set itself the target of winning 50 plus seats in the 87-member assembly, with an eye on forming government. The BJP hopes to replicate its success in the Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections last month in Jharkhand, though it has never before been seen as a major political player in Jammu and Kashmir. In the national elections this year, the BJP registered its best performance ever in Jammu and Kashmir, winning three of six Lok Sabha seats. The PDP had won the other three, with the Congress-National Conference alliance routed. The Congress and the National Conference had won the last Assembly elections. They were partners till July this year, when they parted ways and decided to contest separately this year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted this morning, 'As polls begin in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand, I urge my sisters and brothers in these states to go out and vote in large numbers.' Voting was also held in 13 constituencies in Jharkhand, which recorded a 61 per cent voter turnout.