Development remains core issue for majority voters in Rajouri-Poonch

Long queue of female voters waiting for their turn in front of a Polling Station in Rajouri. -Excelsior/Imran
Long queue of female voters waiting for their turn in front of a Polling Station in Rajouri. -Excelsior/Imran

Confusion mars Pahari community in absence of BJP
Nishikant Khajuria

JAMMU, May 25: Even as Pahari-Gujjar politics dominated the canvassing in twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri, development remained core issue for the majority voters who exercised their franchise for the Anantnag-Rajouri Parliamentary constituency, which went to the polls today under 6th phase of ongoing Lok Sabha general elections.
Better road network, hospitals and schools, safe drinking water and employment etc were the priority issues for these voters who opined that irrespective of party affiliation, their representative in the Parliament should concentrate on addressing general developmental issues.

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“The entire Pir Panjal region needs special attention of the Government for infrastructure development in respect of medical facilities, education, connectivity and employment opportunities. Our vote is for development of the area,” said Ramesh Chander of Kalal in Nowshera.
Revival of the shelved Railway Project for train to Rajouri-Poonch, construction of tunnels to make Mughal Road and Dera Gali open for all the seasons, development of scenic spots in the region for attracting tourists were among the developmental issues specifically pressed by the voters.
“We hope that Rajouri-Poonch will now get attention of the new MP as our area always remained neglected under Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha constituency,” opined Asif Bhat of Rajouri while justifying delimitation and creation of Anantnag-Rajouri constituency.
Young Asifa Kousar of Ward number 6 in Rajouri Town and Harleen Kour of Dhani Dhar Rajouri, who were enthusiastic to cast their vote for the first time, said that they want Government to focus more on improvement in education system in the area and generating employment opportunities for the educated youth.

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Sardar Mohd Zaboor, after casting his vote, also highlighted the pressing issue of unemployment besides underscoring the need for a fire service station at Thannamandi. He expressed hope that the winning candidate would prioritize the betterment of Thannamandi.
According to Mushtaq Ahmed, a physically challenged youth from Sawjian and first time voter, who exercised his franchise with great enthusiasm, hoped that the Government would work for physically challenged people in J&K Union Territory.
“We have voted for development, better education, enhanced security, employment and brotherhood among all the religions,” said Satish Bhargav of Mendhar.
Amid the speculations that support of the Paharis could be a deciding factor in the election for Anantnag-Rajouri Parliamentary constituency, the community was apparently confused in listing their priorities and coming forward in support of any particular candidate or the party.
While talking to the Excelsior, majority of the Pahari community voters preferred to dodge the reply on their choice. Due to absence of BJP for the contest of Anantnag-Rajouri Parliamentary constituency, there was confusion among Paharis who had extended open support to the party as a reciprocal gesture following granting of Scheduled Tribe status to them.
Mumtaz Khan of Thannamandi emphasized the importance of voting for the development of the Pahari community and expressed confidence that the elected representative from this constituency would work diligently for the Pir Panjal Region. He noted significant potential for tourism in Pir Panjal region, suggesting that with Governmental focus, this region could become a major tourist attraction.
However, there were a few like Vikas Sahni of Mendhar, who claimed that the Pahari community was committed to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party’s choice.