From over 1.65 million voters, when around 300 thousand came out and voted on Thursday, the polling pattern made both sides– the government and the separatists – happy. The separatist said their boycott campaign was an astounding success as they compared the 26 percent turnout with that of 2008 assembly elections when 16 segments forming south Kashmir parliament seat cumulatively recorded 57.95 percent. The government said 26 percent polling was a huge improvement over 1999 and 2004 records when respectively 14.32 and 15.04 percent participated.
What distinguished the pattern, however, was while Pulwama and Shopian district had modest polling, Kulgam and Anantnag recorded a higher percentage. The highest polled was Pahalgam (54 percent), followed by Noorabad (35 percent). The saffron bowl of Pampore recorded the lowest polling of 2.65 percent followed by Tral with 2.83.
The contest in south Kashmir is essentially between the NC and PDP. This election is very crucial for the ruling NC because it is numerically on decline in this belt. If Lok Sabha elections are an indicator then NC’s vote share has dwindled from 37.66 percent in 1999 to 26.63 percent in 2004 against which its arch rival PDP has improved from 24.55 percent to 49.55 percent. As far as assembly elections go, both the parties have dwindling shares.
Against 2002 polls when NC had 19.24 percent and PDP 35 percent, the 2008 polls exhibited that they are at 19.24 percent and 31.81 percent respectively in the belt comprising four districts. Poll percentage in 2002 was at 23.91 percent as compared to last year’s 57.95 percent.