Anantnag-Rajouri seat LS polls: Ethnic divide of Gujjars, Paharis may affect voting pattern

Anantnag-Rajouri seat LS polls: Ethnic divide of Gujjars, Paharis may affect voting pattern

Jammu, May 24: There seems to be an ethnic divide in twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu and Kashmir during the Parliamentary elections and this is expected to be reflected during May 25 polling day.

The two major communities, Gujjars and Pahari, are toeing different lines and none of the two will follow the pattern of others in the voting for the most important phase of these elections.

According to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), after the intense campaigning on Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency, where candidates got 18 extra days to seek votes from people, after the polling date was postponed by the Election Commission of India (ECI) from May 7 to 25, over 18.30 lakh voters will be eligible to cast their votes during the 6th phase of the general elections.

This redesigned constituency, which brought together south and north of Pir Panjal, have given the people of Rajouri and Poonch districts to get their votes counted and play an important role in deciding who will win. At present the constituency comprises 18 Assembly segments, of which 11 fall in three districts of Anantnag, Kulgam and Shopian, seven segments are from Rajouri and Anantnag districts. The total number of eligible voters is 1830379 and out of which 1094743 are from Kashmir side whereas 735551 are from Rajouri and Poonch.

The majority of voters in twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch consist of Gujjars and Paharis and they never get together. This time it was seen that Gujjars seem to be aligned towards a particular candidate, who has been the religious leader as well, whereas Paharis are inclined towards the other side. This has put an end to issue based politics and campaigning.

“When you have an ethnic divide visible on the ground, locals get buried and people vote for the leaders who are from their own tribe and ethnicity. This election is no different and both Gujjars and Paharis have made their mind as to where they will vote,” said Shafiq Mir, Chairman of All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference.

Mir, who is a former Block Development Council (BDC) Chairman, believed that in absence of BJP’s candidate, Pahari people are looking for the candidate who has the best chance of winning. “They may not follow the diktats of BJP and their leaders to vote for a particular party, who doesn’t have much chance of winning. I believe it is a two-way contest between the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),” he added.

Gujjars leaders also believe that there is a direct contest between NC and PDP and no other party has any chance.

“It is expected that around 80 percent votes of Gujjar community will go to Mian Altaf of NC whereas the rest will go to PDP, whereas Paharis may vote for PDP. But it will be interesting to watch what will be the polling percentage in 11 segments of south Kashmir,” said a Gujjar leader, on the condition of anonymity.

There is also a factor of nomad population that may not be able to vote as most of them have already left for higher reaches where they will not have any polling station. “This will also hurt the NC candidate as nomads are either heading towards hills or have reached there,” the Gujjar leader added—(KNO)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.