Jammu-Kashmir makes indelible mark on electoral history

Highest voter turnout in a General Election for 35 years: Kashmir Valley witnesses massive 30 points jump in poll participation over 2019

GN Bureau | May 28, 2024

#Jammu and Kashmir   #Election Commission of India   #General Elections   #Ladakh  
(GN Photo)
(GN Photo)

In a massive stride for India’s electoral polity, Jammu and Kashmir has registered its highest poll participation in the last 35 years in the General Elections of 2024.

The Combined Voter Turnout (VTR) at the polling stations for the entire union territory, which has 5 Lok Sabha seats (Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag Rajouri, Udhampur and Jammu), was 58.46% this time. This significant participation is a testament to the robust democratic spirit and civic engagement of the people in the region.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) led by CEC Rajiv Kumar along with ECs Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu thanked the polling personnel and security officials over the peaceful conduct of elections in the UT, an official release said on Monday.

CEC Rajiv Kumar while conveying ECIs compliments to the voters of J&K said, “This achievement sits on a credible weave of 25% increase in number of contesting candidates since 2019, C-vigil complaints showing enhanced citizen involvement and Suvidha Portal showing 2,455 requests for rallies etc., reflecting the steady retaking of the election and campaign space away from hesitation and to fuller participation.
“Compared this outcome of the layered depth of electoral mobilisation and participation, as reminiscent of the fame and deft of the legendary Kashmiri artisanal weave. This active participation is a huge positive for Assembly elections to be held soon so that the democratic process continues to thrive in the union territory.”

The combined VTR for the 5 PCs in past few elections is given below:

* PC of Ladakh has been removed, which was part of the erstwhile state of J&K, for comparison.
** Graph depicts Gross VTR for 1996-2019; For 2024, VTR is at polling stations.

The voter turnout of 50.86% from the three Parliamentary Constituencies in the Kashmir Valley echoes the faith of the people in the democratic process. The poll participation percentage witnessed 30 points jump from the last GE in 2019 where it was 19.16%. The three PCs in the valley – Srinagar, Baramulla and Anantnag-Rajouri – recorded VTR of 38.49%, 59.1% and 54.84% respectively, which has been highest in the last three decades. The other two PCs in the UT namely Udhampur and Jammu recorded 68.27% and 72.22% voter turnout respectively.

Note: Due to the delimitation exercise, the voter turnout data from previous elections for the PCs may not be directly comparable;
*Graph depicts Gross VTR for 1996-2019; For 2024, VTR is at polling stations

The historic participation in the UT was realised by earnest efforts of the election and security officials who had worked tirelessly to empower the people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the youth, to participate in the elections. More young people have asserted their faith and embraced democracy in a big way. Another interesting perspective is the electors in the age group of 18-59 years which forms the major part of electors in the UT. The high poll percentage in GE 2024 is reflective of their faith in democracy, which is a positive and heartening development.

The Commission has also enabled Kashmiri migrant voters residing at various relief camps in Delhi, Jammu, and Udhampur to also have the option of voting in person at designated special polling stations or using postal ballot. As many as 21 Special Polling Stations were established at Jammu, 1 at Udhampur and 4 at Delhi.

Ladakh, which was constituted as a separate Union Territory in 2019, also saw an enthusiastic response to the call of democracy as reflected in the VTR of 71.82%.

As part of awareness and outreach, a wide range of activities were organised as part of systematic voters education and electoral participation (SVEEP) on the field in Jammu and Kashmir for the General Elections 2024. Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, J&K, organised adventure sports events, symposiums, awareness rallies, nukkad natak and numerous other events to propagate the message of voting.

Among various efforts, activities included creating Igloos as a dummy polling station in Baramulla, Para scooter event in Kathua, sensitisation in Beating the Retreat ceremony on Suchetgarh border, mega awareness Rally in Teetwal near LOC, near Dal Lake in Srinagar to Chougan in Kishtwar and playing instrumental version of ECI song on highest railway bridge. Musical programmes and activities were carried out at many places including Lal chowk, Gulmarg, Kulgam, Anantnag by the famous singers. Every nook and corner of UT witnessed a rejuvenation of democracy and victory of ballot with thumping participation in polling, resulting in a record voters’ turnout.



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