The only seat in the state that went to the polls on Thursday, Srinagar, recorded the lowest voter turnout in the country across eight states, 24 per cent.
It came as no surprise, since Srinagar has always been a stronghold of the separatists, who — as in earlier elections — had called for a poll boycott.
Even so, the figure was higher than in the 2004 Lok Sabha poll, when only 18.6 per cent of Srinagar’s voters, cast their votes. “People have voted for the boycott,” said Syed Ali Shah Geelani, 75, chief of the breakaway, hardline faction of the separatist All Party Hurriyat Conference. “They have elected the boycott. We appreciate it.”
The high polling recorded during the assembly elections in November-December last year, despite the separatists’ call for a boycott then — 62 per cent across the state, and 39.6 per cent in the 15 assembly constituencies that comprise the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat — had raised hopes of increased participation in the Lok Sabha polls too.
But the low polling in Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, which voting was held last week, showed that this time the boycott call was get a far better response.
“If the response to the assembly poll was a vote for Indian democracy, today’s polling should be the writing on the wall for Indian democracy,” said Yasin Malik, chief of the separatist Jammu and Kashmir Liberataion Front.
As on past occasions, polling was lowest in the urban constituencies of Srinagar city. It was much higher in the rural areas, specially the districts of Budgam and Ganderbal, which adjoing Srinagar district and are part of the seat.