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Will Kashmir cross the 50% voting mark? Parties expect a Srinagar turnout effect

THE HIGHEST polling in almost three decades in Srinagar, at 38%, is being interpreted differently by different quarters. Now, all eyes are on what it means for the two remaining Lok Sabha seats of Kashmir, which will vote on May 20 and 25.

Traditionally, both Baramulla, which votes next, and Anantnag (now renamed Anantnag-Rajouri) have seen higher voting than the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat. With areas of Jammu province included in Anantnag now, the overall polling in Kashmir is expected to cross the 50% mark – which would be higher than even the 1996 elections, marred by allegations of coerced voting.

In an interview to The Hindu, published on Wednesday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah repeated what the BJP has been saying, that the Srinagar voting was “the greatest testament to the rightness of the decision” to revoke Article 370.

On the other hand, Kashmir mainstream parties such as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and National Conference (NC) have said that the Srinagar voting reflected the pent-up frustration of Valley residents, who snapped up the first chance to “reject” the Centre’s scrapping of J&K’s special status.

“The Srinagar constituency turned out in large numbers driven by a sense of suffocation and a desire to reject the actions taken on August 5, 2019,” former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said at a poll rally in south Kashmir Tuesday. Mufti, who is facing a tough contest in the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat against senior Gujjar leader and NC stalwart Mian Altaf and the Apni Party’s Zafar Iqbal Manhas, also appealed to the people to come out in large numbers to vote when the constituency goes to polls on May 25.

“I appeal to the people of Anantnag-Rajouri constituency that even if it takes

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