Jammu and Kashmir: High Voter Turnout and Peaceful Conduct of The Elections


Jammu and Kashmir: High Voter Turnout and Peaceful Conduct of The Elections

The high voter turnout and peaceful conduct of the ongoing elections in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the Valley, point to a significant step towards democratic renewal in the region after the abrogation of Article 370 and the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019. The heartening turnout of 38 per cent in Srinagar, a leap from 14.43 per cent polling in 2019,  writes The Tribune “signals faith in the electoral process despite the socio-political complexities of the state-turned-UT. That the 2024 General Election is being held here without any call for boycott after decades is reflective of a growing desire among the people to actively engage in shaping their future.”


Strategic retreat by BJP

However, “challenges persist, especially in bridging the trust deficit between the Kashmiri polity and the Central Government. For the BJP, skipping elections in the Valley and limiting itself to Ladakh and Jammu marks not only a strategic retreat but also an acknowledgment of simmering discontent and the onerous task of reconciling its narrative with ground realities. Despite claims of ushering in development and peace after the abrogation of Article 370, the BJP faces scrutiny over unaddressed grievances, characterised by arrests, media censorship and economic neglect.”


Next step: restoration of statehood

The successful conduct of elections should serve as a catalyst for the restoration of statehood, as promised by Prime Minister Modi during his poll rally in Udhampur last month. It is reinforced by the Supreme Court’s December 2023 order to conduct the Assembly elections by September. All stakeholders “must seize the momentum and work towards building a more inclusive and representative governance framework that addresses the aspirations of the people of the Union Territory.”

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