Voting apathy continues in cities  

On May 3 too, while referring to voter turnout in phase two, the Commission had said it was “disappointed” with the turnout level in some metropolitan cities…reports Asian Lite News

The Election Commission on Monday lamented the low turn in urban constituencies in various cities such as Mumbai, Thane, Nashik and Lucknow. The poll body said said that these cities have continued the trend of “urban apathy” as noticed in the 2019 parliamentary polls.

However, it noted that in Mumbai, celebrities and common citizens alike, waited patiently for their turn to cast their vote.

Celebrities from various walks of life have partnered with the Commission to motivate voters to exercise their franchise in the elections, it said.

Various such motivational videos were uploaded on their social media platforms.

On Sunday too, the Commission had pointed out that Mumbai, Thane and Lucknow have shown apathy towards voting in the past and asked these city dwellers to turnout in higher numbers.

The poll authority had noted that in the past, these cities have “suffered” from urban apathy in voting. “The Commission specially calls upon these city dwellers to erase the stigma by turning out in higher numbers,” it said.

On May 3 too, while referring to voter turnout in phase two, the Commission had said it was “disappointed” with the turnout level in some metropolitan cities.

The EC had last month assembled many metro commissioners here to work out a strategy to fight urban apathy.

Urban and youth apathy is described as a phenomenon when young voters and those living in metros fail to turn up at polling stations on the election day.

So far, the last four phases have registered a voter turnout of 66.95 per cent.

On May 13, the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency recorded about 38 per cent polling, the second highest in a few decades, while Baramulla on Monday recorded an all-time-high voter turnout of 59 per cent.

In the fifth phase on May 20, according to the Election Commission, West Bengal recorded the highest voter turnout (73 per cent), followed by Ladakh (67.15 per cent), Jharkhand (63.00 per cent), Odisha (60.72 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (57.79 per cent), Jammu and Kashmir (54.67 per cent), Bihar (52.60 per cent) and Maharashtra (49.01 per cent)

Around 45.1 crore electors have exercised their franchise in the last four phases. As in February this year, the total number of voters stood at around 97 crore.

Sopore sheds ‘chhota Pakistan’ tag

Once dubbed “chhota Pakistan”, Jammu and Kashmir’s Sopore town witnessed a remarkable shift as voters flocked to polling stations to exercise their franchise in the Lok Sabha elections, marking a departure from the low participation witnessed in previous polls.

Formerly a hotbed of militancy and dominated by foreign terrorists in the 1990s, Sopore and Rafiabad areas experienced a resurgence of electoral engagement with a high voter turnout.

Sopore, lying in the Baramulla district, is a part of the Baramulla constituency.

Baramulla witnessed a closely-fought contest between National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, former two-time MLA and Independent candidate Engineer Rashid, and People’s Conference chief Sajad Lone.

Locals such as Ishfaq from the Seelu village, who cast his first vote, expressed a newfound enthusiasm for the democratic process driving positive change in his community.

“I am happy that, after missing my right to vote on the previous occasion, I could vote today because, if I want to see things around me change, I have to be a part of the change,” he said.

Historically plagued by minimal turnout, Sopore and Rafiabad witnessed a significant increase in voter participation this time, with Sopore recording 44.49 per cent and Rafiabad 59.40 per cent, according to the latest data.

Local voices, including Irfan Sheikh of Sopore, emphasised the importance of civic engagement, underlining that change requires active participation rather than passive observation.

“People have to come out to vote as things don’t change while staying indoors or by boycotting,” says Sheikh, a resident of the interiors of Sopore and an election agent of the National Conference.

The recent overtures made by the banned Jamaat-e-Islami on entering electoral politics also contributed to the increase in voter turnout, highlighting the organisation’s influence in the region.

“No one can deny that the banned group has an influence. In the past, it used to threaten voters. But, today, nothing of that sort is happening,” says Gazanfar Ali, a retired government servant.

Meanwhile, The Baramulla parliamentary constituency of Jammu and Kashmir recorded a voter turnout of 55.79 per cent in the districts of Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora and Budgam as of the latest data issued by the Election Commission of India on Monday.

As per the ECI, this is the highest voter turnout recorded in the constituency in the last 8 Lok Sabha elections in 35 years.

The voter turnout in Baramulla was 5.48 per cent in 1989, 46.65 per cent in 1996, 41.94 per cent in 1998, 27.79 per cent in 1999, 35.65 per cent in 2004, 41.84 per cent in 2009, 39.14 per cent in 2014 and 34.6 per cent in 2019.

Earlier on May 13 in the fourth phase, the Srinagar constituency, covering districts of Srinagar, Ganderbal, Pulwama, Budgam and Shopian Districts partly, recorded 37.99 per cent voting which is also the highest turnout in several decades. This was the first general election in the valley after the abrogation of Article 370 and the enactment of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.

CEC Rajiv Kumar along with fellow Election Commissioners Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu while appreciating the efforts of both civil and security personnel in the smooth and peaceful conduct of elections and thanking enthusiastic participation by the voters of J&K said that a clear message has been given that people of Jammu and Kashmir are eager to exercise franchise and have their stakes in the democratic system of governance.

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