Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency records 53 per cent voter turnout

SRINAGAR — The Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency recorded a 53-per cent voter turnout on Saturday, as polling for the five Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir came to an end, officials said.

Fifty-eight per cent of the 87.26-lakh electorate exercised their franchise in the first major election in the Union Territory following the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution by the Centre in August 2019. This is the highest voter turnout recorded in Jammu and Kashmir in 40 years.

The high voter turnout in the Anantnag-Rajouri seat was in sharp contrast to the poll percentage of 9 registered in the 2019 general 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 at the conclusion of the polling process, 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.

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

The polling began at 7 am and continued till 7 pm at some places.

In the old Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency, the turnout in 2019 was around 9 per cent while in 2014, it was close to 29 per cent.

In the 11 Assembly segments falling in the Kashmir valley, the poll percentage is around 42. — (PTI)