Moderate turnout was witnessed in four out of six assembly segments of southern Anantnag district, which went to polls in the third phase of general elections on Tuesday. These four segments have largely been the strongholds of National Conference and Congress.
The segments like Dooru, Kokernag and Shangus—traditionally high voter turnout pockets and strongholds of Congress over a period of time—recorded an overall turnout of 17.28 percent, 19.50 percent, and 15.10 percent, respectively.
While Dooru was represented twice in the state assembly by Congress leader Ghulam Ahmad Mir—the party’s candidate for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat—another senior leader of the Congress party Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed wrested the Kokernag seat twice on the trot. However, in 2014, both of them lost to PDP by a narrow margin, primarily owing to the anti-incumbency factor.
At the same time, Congress had over the years made inroads in the Shangus assembly segment and ultimately it won the seat in 2014, defeating PDP’s Peer Mansoor Hussain who had represented it earlier.
“Even though the turnout was not so high, but those who are coming to polling booths are mostly the workers of Congress,” said most voters who spoke to Greater Kashmir at a polling station set up in Government High School in Dooru town.
A few voters who were sitting in a nearby playground joined the conversation.
“Votes are being polled in favor of both PDP and Congress. We supported PDP in the past elections and the party is again our first choice,” said a voter, who identified himself as Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh.
A total of 625 votes were polled by late afternoon, of 5653 votes in nine polling booths set up in the school building.
The voting was brisk in higher belts of Dooru, Kapran and Qamar areas, with Congress scoring over its rivals—both NC and PDP. The situation was almost same in Kokernag and Shangus segments, where the lower belts witnessed dismal to moderate voting, but the upper areas like Larnoo, Matigawran, Daksum, Ahlan, Gadole recorded brisk polling.
“Congress and NC voters have been making a beeline at the polling booths,” said voters at Larnoo, expressing their excitement. However, they said the PDP might have walked away with its share in villages downstream Brengi Nallah, in Kokernag.
Similarly, most of the areas in Shangus like Brakpora, Achabal, Shangus, Nowgam witnessed dismal to very low voter turnout.
However, many other areas like Gopalpora witnessed moderate voting while the upper belts of Chatergul, Brimar Nersar, Chatapal recorded fairly good turnout.
Congress had a good vote share from Shangus in 2008 but lost by a very thin margin to PDP. Later, in 2014, the Congress wrested the seat and NC also performed better.
“This time it will be a close contest between Congress, NC, and PDP,” said Shakeel Ahmad, a student.
However, NC has an advantage in Pahalgam, where brisk polling was witnessed in Khowripora area and dismal to moderate voting in Dochnipora belt.
Pahalgam town and its peripheries with equal vote share of both NC and PDP also voted in good numbers.
For Congress, the chances, many say, could have brightened with better turnout in its strongholds.