Srinagar voter turnout not enough to judge people’s response on 2019 decision: Azad

DPAP Chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad addressing election rally at Qazigund in south Kashmir.
DPAP Chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad addressing election rally at Qazigund in south Kashmir.

Excelsior Correspondent
SRINAGAR, May 14: The Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) Chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad today said the voter turnout in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency is not high enough to know whether the people are happy or angry with the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories in 2019.

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“I had hoped that Kashmir would witness 80 to 90 per cent turnout in view of what has been happening in the past seven to eight years. Article 370 was removed, Statehood was snatched. So, I thought the turnout will be high, like 90 to 95 per cent,” he told reporters while campaigning for his party candidate in Kulgam district.
“The increase of a few per cent hardly matters as it happens in every constituency of India. That way, we can not know whether the people are angry or happy (with the abrogation of Article 370 and snatching of Statehood). It is a new thing for me,” he said.
About the rise in poll percentage in the militancy-infested areas like Tral town of Pulwama, he said the increase of few per cent in the turnout is normal after every election across India.
“There were some pockets affected by militancy. After 1994-95, the militancy started waning. Today the militancy is next to nothing. The areas affected by militancy also witnessed 30-40 per cent votes and the areas which were not affected, also had similar turnout,” he added.
Asked about the protests in Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK), the former Chief Minister said he had sympathies with the people of Pakistan as they did not get a democratic set up like India.
“I pity the people of Pakistan as they did not get the kind of democratic Government that India has got. The generals either directly run the Government or their nominated people run the Government in Pakistan,” he added.
He asserted that his party remains resolute against the divisive tactics employed by regional parties. He condemned their attempts to fragment communities based on caste and religion, whether it be Gujjars, Paharis, or Kashmiris.
Azad underscored his party’s commitment to prioritizing development over division, emphasizing the need to hold these parties accountable for their exploitation of the populace.
“Both NC and PDP have merely exploited the people for years without contributing to their welfare. While the Mughals created gardens in Kashmir many years ago, I established the breathtaking Tulip Garden, drawing lakhs of visitors. Despite Kashmir being a Muslim-dominated region, there was no Hajj House until I initiated its construction. Over the years, I’ve facilitated the establishment of more districts, medical colleges, schools, stadiums, roads, and tehsils. I challenge them to showcase their developmental achievements, as they have only indulged in empty slogans, which they now conveniently forget,” he said.
“My sole agenda is development; I have never exploited people on the basis of religion or caste. Throughout my over 45 years in politics, no one can accuse me of corruption. My track record is transparent; I do not possess extravagant mansions,” he added.