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Baramulla's Historic Voter Turnout Signals Political Shift Post-370

12:00 AM May 23, 2024 IST | SHABIR IBN YUSUF
baramulla s historic voter turnout signals political shift post 370

The Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency in Kashmir recorded unprecedented voter turnout, signalling significant changes in Jammu and Kashmir’s political landscape. This shift is particularly notable in the context of the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, which revoked the special autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir.


Historically, Baramulla, a critical parliamentary constituency in North Kashmir, encompasses the districts of Baramulla, Kupwara, Budgam and Bandipora. Historically, the constituency has experienced fluctuating voter turnout due to ongoing conflict, security concerns, and political instability.


The abrogation of Article 370 marked a significant turning point, with both immediate and long-term effects on the region’s political and social dynamics. The highest voter turnout in the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat post-abrogation of Article 370 highlights a transformative period in Jammu and Kashmir's political history. This phenomenon reflects the electorate's renewed faith in the democratic process and their aspirations for a stable, developed, and inclusive future


In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Baramulla saw a voter turnout of around 39%. This figure rose dramatically a little in the 2019 elections. The trend continued in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, setting new records for voter participation in the constituency. This surge in voter engagement post-abrogation suggests a profound shift in public sentiment and political engagement.


There have been several factors that contributed to high voter turnout.


*One of the primary reasons for the increased voter turnout is the enhanced security situation post-abrogation. The government’s focus on counterinsurgency operations and increased security presence has created a more secure environment, encouraging voters to participate in the electoral process without fear.


*The reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories has led to a more direct administration and governance model. This change has fostered a sense of political stability and efficacy, motivating the electorate to engage more actively in the democratic process.


*The central government’s promises of accelerated development and improved infrastructure post-abrogation have resonated with the electorate. Voters are keen to see tangible changes in their daily lives, driving them to the polls to support candidates who advocate for development.

*Extensive voter education campaigns and heightened political awareness have played a significant role. The populace, especially the youth, is more informed and eager to participate in shaping their future through democratic means.

*Local issues such as unemployment, healthcare, education, and basic amenities have become focal points of political campaigns. Candidates addressing these concerns effectively have garnered substantial support, leading to higher voter turnout.


*The direct governance model post-abrogation has led to improved delivery of public services and governance. This has instilled a sense of confidence among the electorate in the effectiveness of democratic institutions.

*There have been visible efforts to boost economic development in Kashmir. Initiatives aimed at improving infrastructure, promoting tourism, and attracting investment have created new opportunities and optimism among the local population.

*The abrogation has re-energized political engagement in Jammu and Kashmir. New political parties and leaders have emerged, offering fresh perspectives and alternatives to the traditional political discourse. This diversification has invigorated the political landscape, encouraging more robust voter participation.

* The emphasis on national integration and the promise of equal opportunities has fostered a sense of belonging and social cohesion. This has translated into a more participatory political culture, as people feel their voices are integral to the national narrative.


The high voter turnout in Baramulla post-abrogation is a positive indicator of democratic engagement and political stability. However, sustaining this momentum requires continuous efforts in several areas

* Maintaining a secure environment is crucial for continued high voter turnout. Ongoing efforts to address terrorism and ensure public safety are imperative.

*Fulfilling developmental promises and addressing local issues will be key to retaining voter trust and participation. Tangible improvements in infrastructure, education, healthcare, and employment are essential.

*Encouraging political inclusivity and participation from diverse sections of society will strengthen democratic processes. Engaging women, youth, and marginalized communities is vital for a holistic political development.

*Ensuring transparent and accountable governance will reinforce public confidence in democratic institutions. Effective communication and responsiveness to public grievances are necessary.

The abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, which granted special autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, has led to several changes and  gains.

There has been an increase in investments from various sectors, including real estate, tourism, and industry. The government has announced several infrastructure projects, including roads, highways, and railway connectivity.

Initiatives like the Jammu and Kashmir Global Investors' Summit aim to attract investments, with the government claiming to have signed numerous Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with private companies.

J&K now follows the same legal and administrative framework as the rest of India, which proponents argue has streamlined governance and improved the efficiency of public services.

(The author is senior staffer Greater Kashmir)