Low Voter Turnout in Srinagar Amid Acrimonious Campaign Tone

India's Srinagar constituency saw a low voter turnout in the fourth phase of national elections, with only 29.93% of eligible voters casting ballots. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chose not to field a candidate in the constituency, amidst rising concerns over the region's political stability.

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Low Voter Turnout in Srinagar Amid Acrimonious Campaign Tone

Low Voter Turnout in Srinagar Amid Acrimonious Campaign Tone

As India's national elections entered their fourth phase on Monday, the Srinagar constituency in Jammu and Kashmir witnessed a low voter turnout. This development comes amid rising concerns over the increasingly acrimonious tenor of the campaign in the volatile region. Notably absent from the contest in Srinagar is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which chose not to field a candidate.

Why this matters: The low voter turnout in Srinagar reflects the deep-seated dissatisfaction among the people of Jammu and Kashmir with the Modi government's decisions, which could have far-reaching implications for the region's political stability. The outcome of these elections will be closely watched as it may influence the future of India's relations with the disputed region.

The election in Srinagar, the main city of Indian Kashmir, is the first since the Modi government revoked the region's semi-autonomous status in 2019, a move that was widely condemned and led to months-long communication blockades and the detention of regional politicians. Despite the BJP's claims of bringing down violence in Kashmir, Prime Minister Modi has only visited the region once since 2019, under heavy paramilitary protection.

As of 3 pm on Monday, only 29.93% of eligible voters had cast their ballots in Srinagar. The low turnout is seen by many as a referendum against the government's controversial decisions and policies implemented without public consent. "If people were happy with the abrogation of Article 370, the BJP wouldn't have hesitated to fight. But they don't want to expose themselves, and to save face, they have decided not to contest," said Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of the federal territory.

The main contest in Srinagar is between the National Conference (NC) and the People's Democratic Party (PDP), two regional parties that have focused their campaigns on the restoration of Kashmir's semi-autonomy. NC candidate Syed Aga Ruhulla said, "They have to show they don't accept [the decision to revoke Article 370]."

Polling in Srinagar constituency has 17,47,810 eligible voters, and the Election Commission has set up 2,135 polling stations. There are 24 candidates in the fray, with allegations of "official interference" marring the voting process. Three generations of the Abdullah family, including NC president Farooq Abdullah, cast their votes amid concerns over the arrest of NC workers.

Two more rounds of voting will be held in Kashmir on May 20 and May 25, with the results of the elections to be counted on June 4. The low voter turnout in Srinagar and the BJP's decision not to contest the seat reflect the complex political landscape of Jammu and Kashmir and the challenges that lie ahead for the region.

Key Takeaways

  • Low voter turnout in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, in India's national elections.
  • BJP didn't field a candidate, amid concerns over Modi government's decisions.
  • Voter turnout at 29.93% as of 3 pm, seen as a referendum against government policies.
  • Regional parties NC and PDP focus on restoring Kashmir's semi-autonomy.
  • Results of the elections to be counted on June 4, with implications for India-Kashmir relations.