After Rajouri-Poonch, Chenab Valley outrightly rejects Kashmir centric parties’ poll boycott call

People thronging a polling station in Kishtwar on Wednesday.
People thronging a polling station in Kishtwar on Wednesday.

We can’t compromise on basic issues anymore: Voters
Massive turnout indicates people prefer development over emotive slogans

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Oct 10: After twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch, the Chenab Valley comprising of Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban has outrightly rejected the poll boycott call given by two Kashmir centric political parties, which otherwise have strong vote bank and cadre of workers in these three districts.
Moreover, the massive turnout in this belt of Jammu region during the 2nd Phase of Urban Local Bodies elections has clearly established that people prefer development and redressal of their basic issues over emotive slogans of National Conference and People’s Democratic Party.
During the Phase-I of the Urban Local Bodies elections held on October 8, 2018, Rajouri and Poonch districts, which are considered as stronghold of these two political parties, recorded 81% and 73.1% voting—the highest as compared to other areas covered under Phase-I of the elections in Jammu and Kashmir regions.
In this way, the voters as well as workers of these mainstream political parties sent a loud and clear message that they want to contribute in the strengthening of democratic institutions at the grass root level.
Today, the people of Chenab Valley have also rendered the poll boycott call as infructuous by ensuring massive participation in the 2nd Phase of the Urban Local Bodies elections. As per the figures of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) J&K, Kishtwar recorded 72.7% turnout while as voting percentage in Doda and Ramban districts was 72.77% and 79.53% respectively.
Though at present neither National Conference nor People’s Democratic Party have any Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from the Chenab Valley yet both these parties have stronghold in these three districts and this is evident from the figures of last Assembly elections when the candidates of these two political parties shared around 55% of the total polled votes.
“This clearly indicates that largely there was no taker of boycott call of two mainstream political parties in Chenab Valley too”, observers said, adding “by ensuring massive participation in the Urban Local Bodies polls the people of Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts have exhibited strong desire for strengthening the democratic institutions and have made it clear that they cannot be swayed away by emotive slogans anymore”.
As per the reports, people in those areas, which are considered as hub of the activities of National Conference and People’s Democratic Party, too came out in large numbers to exercise their democratic right by setting aside their political affiliations. This has established that even workers of these political parties were not happy with the decision of boycotting the Urban Local Bodies elections.
“These elections are meant for ensuring redressal of our development related issues locally as such there was no question of staying away from the exercise”, said a number of voters of different wards of Municipal Committee Kishtwar while replying to the questions of media-persons.
“I was associated with the activities of National Conference during the past several years and endorsed its stand on almost all the issues but the decision to boycott the Urban Local Bodies elections was not correct”, said a worker of the party on the condition of anonymity while standing in queue to cast vote for Municipal Committee Banihal.
Similarly, a worker of PDP in Kishtwar, while wishing anonymity said, “we cannot compromise on basic issues of our areas which will get resolved in shortest possible time with the establishment of Urban Local Body”, adding “we had conveyed to the party office bearers in the district that decision to boycott polls would not auger well for the party”.
“Elected Urban Local Bodies will be able to focus on those aspects of development and basic issues which have remained out of the focus of the Members of Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council”, said a number of voters, who were waiting in queue to cast votes for Doda Municipal Committtee.
“The people have put weight behind the development aspect over emotive slogans”, remarked general observers, adding “the massive participation in Urban Local Bodies elections despite boycott call by two mainstream political parties clearly indicates that participation in forthcoming Panchayat elections would be mammoth”.