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J&K’s Baramulla sees record around 60%, Ladakh at 67.15%

Srinagar:In the fifth phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Baramulla parliamentary constituency on Monday recorded a historic voter turnout of around 60 per cent, marking the highest turnout since the 1967 Assembly elections. Of the over 17.38 lakhs who were eligible, approximately 10.43 lakhs cast their votes for the 22 candidates vying for a seat in Parliament.

Addressing a press conference in Srinagar soon after the polls concluded on May 20, Chief Electoral Officer (Jammu and Kashmir) Pandurang K Pole said: “On the whole, the elections remained peaceful with no negative incidents reported throughout the day. The situation is improved significantly in recent days.” This has contributed to the high turnout in these elections over the past four years. Sopore in particular, where voter turnout previously never exceeded single digits, saw a significant increase. Compared to just 4% in 2019, today’s turnout in Sopore was recorded at 44.36. %.”

In 1967, Baramulla recorded a turnout of 51.35%. This was followed by 50.62% in 1971, 56.97% in 1977, 56.02% in 1980, 59.09% in 1984, 5.48% in 1989, no elections in 1991, 46.65% in 1996 , 41.94% in 1998, 27.79% in 1999, 35.65% in 2004, 41.84% in 2009, 38.96% in 2014 and 37.41% in 2019. This year Baramulla broke all previous records by registering a turnout of approximately 60%. “

Speaking about the voter turnout, Pole said, “Handwara recorded the highest turnout among the Assembly segments with 67.50%, followed by Langate with 66% and Sonawari with 64.61%. In Kupwara district, Trehgam saw a turnout of 61.17%, Kupwara recorded 58.90%, and Lolab had 58%, Rafiabad recorded 57.39%, Uri 60.27%, Baramulla 49.34%, Gulmarg 58.50%, Wagoora 49.79%. and Pattan 59.87%. % In Budgam district, Beerwah recorded 56.63%, while Budgam recorded 51.76%.”

“The turnout of migrant voters was also notable. Of the 22,000 registered migrant voters, 32 percent cast their votes today. In addition, 5,481 postal votes were received,” he added.

The high-stakes contest in Baramulla attracted 22 candidates from different political parties. Notable contenders included former Prime Minister and National Conference (NC) Vice President Omar Abdullah, former Minister and People’s Conference (PC) President Sajad Gani Lone, independent engineer candidate Rashid and People’s Democratic Party’s Muhammad Fayaz Mir ( PDP).

Authorities had established 2,103 polling stations in the Baramulla parliamentary constituency, with 905 polling stations identified as critical in Baramulla district alone. These polling stations were equipped with 4,206 CCTV cameras for live webcasting, along with 50 additional cameras at the main entrances.

Baramulla constituency comprises 18 Assembly segments, including six in Kupwara (Karnah, Trehgam, Kupwara, Lolab, Handwara and Langate), seven in Baramulla (Sopore, Rafiabad, Uri, Baramulla, Gulmarg, Wagoora-Kreeri and Pattan), three in Bandipora (Sonwari, Bandipora and Gurez), and two in Budgam after demarcation.

Security measures were strict, with extensive monitoring via CCTV and drone surveillance. About 200 additional companies of the Central Armed Forces Police (CAPF) were deployed. Since 1957, Baramulla has witnessed the representation of eleven different members in the Indian Parliament. Baramulla’s political landscape has seen remarkable diversity in terms of party memberships over the years.

In 1957, Sheikh Mohammed Akbar of the Indian National Congress became its first representative, marking the beginning of his parliamentary journey. The subsequent elections in 1967 and 1971 maintained the Congress stronghold, with Syed Ahmed Aga emerging victorious on both occasions.

The political dynamics changed in 1977 when Abdul Ahad Vakil of the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference emerged victorious, signaling a change in the political winds of Baramulla. However, this change was short-lived when Khwaja Mubarak Shah of the Indian National Congress regained the seat in 1980.

The 1980s saw a see-saw battle between the Congress and the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference. Saifuddin Soz became a prominent figure, representing the National Conference in 1983, 1984 and 1989. This period marked a significant back and forth between the two major parties.

In the 1996 elections, Ghulam Rasool Kar of the Indian National Congress took over, briefly interrupting the dominance of the National Conference. However, Saifuddin Soz regained his position in 1998, and Abdul Rashid Shaheen succeeded him in 1999 and 2004, once again consolidating the National Conference’s position.

The year 2009 brought a new face to the fore with Sharifuddin Shariq representing the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference, continuing the party’s legacy in Baramulla. However, the 2014 elections witnessed a significant shift as Muzaffar Hussain Baig of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party emerged victorious and offered a new direction for the constituency.

In the last Assembly elections of 2019, Mohammad Akbar Lone of the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference regained the seat, indicating a revival of the party’s influence in Baramulla.

Meanwhile, Ladakh also witnessed a notable increase in voter participation, with an overall turnout of 67.15% by 5 p.m. In Ladakh, Kargil reported the highest voter turnout at 71.45%, followed by Leh at 62.50%. The Ladakh parliamentary constituency, the largest in the country in terms of area, has over 1,84,000 voters. Majority of these voters, totaling 95,926, live in Kargil district while 88,877 are in Leh district. The election contest featured three candidates: Tashi Gyalson of the BJP, Tsering Namgyal of the Congress and independent candidate Hanifa Jan.

Since 1967, Ladakh has seen the representation of 13 different members in the Indian Parliament. Ladakh’s political landscape reflects a mix of party affiliations, independent candidates and shifting alliances over the years.

The journey began in 1967 when Indian National Congress representative Kushok Bakula became the first MP from Ladakh, establishing Congress’ dominance in the region. This trend continued in the subsequent 1971 elections, in which Bakula retained his seat.

However, the political scenario witnessed a shift in 1977 when Parvati Devi, also from the Indian National Congress, emerged victorious, marking a brief hiatus in the Congress government in Ladakh. Nevertheless, the Congress regained power and Phuntsog Namgyal won elections in 1980 and 1984.

The 1989 elections brought a new dynamic to Ladakh, with Mohamad Hassan Commander winning as an independent candidate, signaling the electorate’s inclination towards alternative voices outside the major parties. In the 1996 elections, Phuntsog Namgyal returned from the Indian National Congress, highlighting the swing of the electorate between established parties and independent candidates.

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw a surge in the representation of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, with Syed Hussain and Hassan Khan winning in 1998 and 1999 respectively, demonstrating a diversification of political representation in Ladakh.

The year 2004 marked a significant development when Thupstan Chhewang won as an independent candidate, indicating a growing trend of voter support for candidates not aligned with the major parties. Chhewang retained his seat in 2009, further strengthening the influence of independent voices in Ladakh.

In 2014, Ladakh witnessed a seismic shift in the political landscape when Thupstan Chhewang joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in line with the party’s growing influence in the region.

The last parliamentary election of 2019 saw another victory for the BJP, with Jamyang Tsering Namgyal emerging as MP, consolidating the BJP’s position in Ladakh and reflecting the changing political dynamics in the region.

Read more:Once a hotbed of fighting, Brath village in Sopore voted in large numbers for the first time