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Stage set for last electoral battle in Anantnag-Rajouri constituency today

May 25, 2024
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Srinagar, May 24: The stage is all set for the polls in the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency on Saturday

 The constituency was originally going to polls on May 7 but was deferred by the Election Commission at the request of BJP and other parties, to May 25. 

Security personnel and polling staff have been stationed at their designated locations across the trans-Pir Panchal constituency spread over five districts- three in Kashmir and two in the Jammu region. The constituency has 18 assembly segments — 11 in the Kashmir region’s Anantnag Kulgam and Shopian, districts and seven in Jammu’s Poonch and Rajouri districts across the mighty Pir Panjal range.

While over 18.36 lakh voters will decide the fate of 20 candidates on May 25, the constituency will witness a triangular contest between Peoples Democratic Party’s president Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference’s influential Gujjar leader Mian Altaf and Apni Party’s Zaffar Manhas.

Election Commission of India (ECI) has set up 2,338 polling stations across the Anantnag- Rajouri Parliamentary Constituency.   

While the BJP has not fielded any candidate from the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha, saying the party was in no hurry to see the lotus bloom in Kashmir,  the party has given tacit support to Apni Party’s Manhas, who is a Pahari.

 Earlier this year, the BJP-led government gave Paharis and some other groups the coveted Scheduled Tribe (ST) status, and the community was now expected to vote for the BJP. However, without BJP candidates, the Paharis are now up for grabs by the three parties. The ethnic Pahari form a major chunk of the total electorate in the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency.  

 The constituency is also dominated by the Gujjar and Bakerwal Muslim communities and the NC is banking on this tribal community to vote for Mian Altaf who is an influential Gujjar leader and has spiritual influence on the tribal community across the Pir Panjal.

 South Kashmir used to be an erstwhile bastion of PDP and it is a high-stakes battle for the former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti who has gone all out to woo voters of all ethnicities.   

 In the last Lok Sabha election, the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency had recorded a low voter turn of 9 % voting while the Rajouri-Poonch area, which was the part of Jammu Lok Sabha seat, recorded over 72% voting.

 In 2104, the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat saw a turnout of 28 percent.

While the polls in Baramulla and Anantnag were peaceful, authorities have a security challenge in the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency.

Last week terrorists carried out two back-to-back attacks in south Kashmir. A former sarpanch associated with the BJP was shot dead and a tourist couple was wounded in a separate attack.

The authorities have made celebrate security arrangements for the polls.   

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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