Indian election commission has announced the General Assembly Elections in Jammu and Kashmir to be held in five phases. The first phase started on November 25 and will continue on until December 20, 2014. The final votes will be counted on December 23.
Jammu and Kashmir have been a controversial state between India and Pakistan and lies on the circuit of Himalaya’s mountain range. The state has multiparty democratic system of governance. This is a Muslim-majority state where 87-seat assembly elections are in beginning stage. It has been reported that around 71 percent turn out of eligible voters has yet been seen who casted their votes for 15 seats on Tuesday. This turn out has been reported to be the highest recorded in the state.
The high voter turnout is due to good security and determination of the voter. People ignored the boycott call by separatists and lined up in huge numbers to vote in spite of bitter cold and snow. According to analysts, they feel that Muslim voters casted in huge numbers to prevent the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from claiming victory while others suggested that high turnout of voters could be due to people’s determination to bring a change, which could help the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Good security and strict rules and regulations also contributed in high turnout of voter.
It is said to be a battle between four major forces of Congress, Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s National Conference and the BJP. BJP being the most favorable party in the first phase is expected to sweep more than 50 seats to form the government in the region.
Although no militancy incident was reported in Jammu and Kashmir on election day and no violence was reported in any region but on Thursday, Nov, 27th when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was slated to campaign for BJP in second phase of Assembly elections, militants barged into a deserted army bunker near the border town on Arnia and killed three soldiers and three civilians. Reports said that around 4 militants infiltrated Arnia belt of Jammu district and opened fire.
The militants captured a vacant bunker of Army and exchange of firing initiated between hiding militants and security forces. A suspected militant was also arrested after security forces foiled an infiltration bid near Line of Control in Rajouri district.
The violence incident seems significant because Modi is expected to visit Udhampur and Poonch on Saturday to campaign for BJP for the second of the five-phase elections. Modi will address a rally in Udhampur district which is 100 km from Arnia. Security has been on high alert due to current attack of militants along the border and also in Jammu, Udhampur and Poonch areas.
The most surprising fact of this election in Jammu and Kashmir is that ever since only two regional parties dominated in Indian occupied Kashmir, the governing National Conference and the PDP. The BJP has always remained behind especially in the Muslim dominated Kashmir but under Modi rule, the BJP is predicted to sweep away the upcoming phases of elections to capture the state.
By Atika Jilani