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People brave inclement weather with vivacity to keep date with democracy

Mixed signals from electorate keep contestants on tenterhooks
03:46 AM Apr 20, 2024 IST | SHUCHISMITA
people brave inclement weather with vivacity to keep date with democracy
Polling officials monitor the election process from live feeds of the CCTV footage at the Control and Command Centre, Chief Electoral Officer, J&K, in Jammu. Photo: Mir Imran/GK
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Kathua, Apr 19: The electorate of Udhampur-Kathua-Doda parliamentary constituency Friday kept their “date with democracy” – demonstrating a mix of vivacity and resilience as they braved even dark mood swings of capricious weather to be part of the bustling electoral exercise.

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The constituency, one among five seats of Jammu and Kashmir, went to polls in the first phase of General Elections 2024.

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Long queues, brisk polling in almost all 18 assembly segments, spanning across five districts viz., Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Udhampur and Kathua clearly suggested that response was overwhelming to the call of J&K CEO P K Pole.

CEO, on the eve of polling day in the wake of inclement weather forecast for April 19, had appealed to the electorate to exercise their right to franchise, undeterred by any phenomenon, including weather, with their widely acknowledged and admired, resilience.

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In assembly segments of Udhampur district, rain in the morning impacted voting patterns a bit yet not for a longer period. As weather improved, polling stations witnessed brisk voting, which earlier saw a sluggish pace in the first two hours.

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In contrast, polling stations in Kathua, mainly town and adjoining areas saw good turnout in the first two to three hours and by afternoon, almost fifty percent voting was recorded in most of the polling stations. Voting pattern in the afternoon turned sluggish. Suddenly by 2.30 pm or so, whimsical weather demonstrated its mood-swing. Still the assembly segments of the district recorded very impressive voter turnout from around 61 percent to around 71 percent by 5 pm.

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“In Polling Station No 86 at the Government Middle School, Barnoti, till 12.48 pm, 435 votes were cast out of total 1165, out of whom 218 were male voters and 214 were female voters,” the Presiding Officer Roshan Lal shared with Greater Kashmir.

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MIXED SIGNALS FROM VOTERS, VOTING PATTERNS MAKE CONTESTANTS NERVOUS

Besides capricious weather, mixed signals from the electorate and voting patterns puzzled candidates in fray and political parties.

While the majority of the voters preferred to remain silent, some vocal electorate boldly aired their opinions, adding to the nervousness among some and ecstasy on the other side.

A couple, which preferred to remain anonymous, after casting their vote, shared, “We’ve voted for the country. See, we are not voting to elect the Member Parliament, our vote is for the Prime Minister.”

They had exercised their right to franchise at Polling Station No 61 set up in Government Girls Higher Secondary School (GGHSS) Kathua. According to Presiding Officer Sat Pal, 429 votes out of total 717 were cast by 1.25 pm. These voters included 226 males and 204 females.

Mahavir Singh, who was the first person to cast his vote at this Polling Station, believed that women in the district formed a hidden or silent electorate who would hold sway. “Don’t underestimate voters. They are well-informed. They very judiciously distinguish between assembly and parliamentary polls and vote accordingly,” he asserts.

Another voter, preferring anonymity, points out, “Ram temple construction will be a factor here.”

Yog Raj Sharma, 61, seemed to be disenchanted with the prevailing scenario. “We’re here to vote for change and for the future of our children. Unemployment, inflation are the main issues for us. For the last four years, no recruitments have been made. Non-cooperation on the part of those at the helm of affairs has made me disenchanted,” he alleges.

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