SRINAGAR: Although the voter turnout in all eight constituencies in Srinagar, which went to polls in the fourth phase of the State Assembly elections on Sunday, was low, it was seven per cent higher than the previous election due to the badly-handled flood rehabilitation and anti-BJP factor.
People in flood-hit areas in Srinagar, especially in civil lines, voted in commendable numbers, but there were no long queues as was the case with the other 10 constituencies in the state that also went to polls on Sunday.
The people in the flood-hit areas of Srinagar were furious with the government for not doing “enough” for their rehabilitation.
Shahida, a first time voter from Ikhrapora area of Srinagar, said she decided to vote after the government ignored the flood-affected people.
“Our house was damaged in the floods and government gave us only few thousand rupees. Can a house be repaired with few thousand rupees,” she asked, adding that she voted for a change.
Ghulam Ahmad, 60, from Rajbagh area said he had never voted in his life. “But, the failure of the government to help flood victims forced me to exercise my right to franchise. I am hopeful that my vote will helping in bringing a change,” he said.
Abdur Rehman of Bemina, which bore the maximum brunt of the floods, said he voted so that the government does not find an excuse for not rehabilitating the flood-affected people.
“People like me need government help for rehabilitation and rebuilding our homes. We cannot do it on our own. Had we not voted, the government would have used it a pretext to deny us compensation. Now they don’t have any excuse,” he said.
While the flood was one of the factors that brought people to the polling stations, in Habba Kadal constituency in downtown, the anti-BJP factor also encouraged people to vote.
“I voted because I don’t want the rightwing BJP candidate to win from our seat. We don’t want BJP to make inroads in Kashmir through our seat,” said 32-year-old Zahoor Ahmad, after casting his vote in Habba Kadal constituency. He said he voted to keep BJP away from the Valley.
Similar views were echoed by Gulzar Ahmad. He said he voted for a candidate of a local party. “We don’t want BJP to make inroads in the Valley and spread its divisive politics here,” added Gulzar.
BJP’s Hira Lal Kaul is among 11 candidates contesting from the Habba Kadal constituency. It was being said that if the constituency saw a lower voter turnout the chances of the BJP candidate winning was high because the migrant Kashmiri Pandits living outside the Valley were certain to vote for him.
The constituency has over 16,000 migrant Kashmiri Pandit voters.