Kashmir Indepth

Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat braces up for triangular contest; ‘Foolproof security to ensure smooth conduct of elections’

Ishtiyaq Kar
Srinagar, May 21: In the final phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency, which spans the Pir Panchal range, is set to witness a keenly contested triangular battle.
Prominent candidates in this high-stakes election include former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), influential tribal leader Mian Altaf Ahmad of the National Conference (NC), and Zaffar Manhas from the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP). Also in the fray is Advocate Maqbool Parray of the Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP), among 20 candidates vying for the seat.
The constituency will go to polls in the sixth phase on May 25 amidst heightened security arrangements.
Anantnag-Rajouri constituency, newly formed by merging areas from both Jammu and Kashmir divisions, has drawn considerable attention.
For Mehbooba Mufti, this election is a critical test of her political influence and the PDP’s standing in its traditional stronghold. Anantnag has been a bastion of the PDP, and her familial roots add to her appeal among the local electorate. A victory here would reaffirm the PDP’s relevance in the region.
Representing the National Conference, Mian Altaf Ahmad brings a legacy of political and spiritual influence.
Hailing from Ganderbal in central Kashmir, Altaf’s family has a history of electoral success and significant sway among the tribal communities in Jammu and Kashmir. His close ties with influential tribal families in Rajouri enhance his prospects in the constituency.
Zaffar Manhas, a prominent Pahari leader, is banking on support from the Pahari community and allies to bolster his numbers. Representing the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, Manhas aims to carve out a space for his party in the complex political landscape of the region.
Meanwhile, given the constituency’s history and the recent attack, security has been intensified to ensure smooth conduct of the elections.
The Election Commission has established 2,338 polling stations, with 2,116 located in rural areas. Significant security measures, including surveillance along the Line of Control (LoC) and enhanced deployment in the hinterlands of Rajouri and Poonch, are in place.
In the recent phase of the elections, the Baramulla constituency recorded a remarkable 59% voter turnout, the highest in four decades. This has set a positive precedent, raising expectations for a high turnout in the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency as well.
The constituency’s restructuring was part of a broader redistricting that also altered the boundaries of five Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir. This change has brought together 18.36 lakh voters across 2338 polling stations, predominantly in rural areas, with 2116 rural and 222 urban stations.
As per reports the Election Commission has ensured comprehensive arrangements for the sixth phase of polling. Over 5,400 Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs), 6,888 Ballot Units, and 4,996 Control Units will be deployed. Special attention has been given to inclusivity, with 18 polling stations managed entirely by women and people with disabilities (PwD), and webcasting from 1,775 stations.
Out of the 18.36 lakh electorate, there are 9,33,647 male voters, 9,02,902 female voters, and 27 third-gender voters. Notably, there are 86,394 first-time voters, and the constituency includes 540 centenarians.
As Anantnag-Rajouri heads to the polls on May 25, the electoral contest between Mehbooba Mufti, Mian Altaf Ahmad, and Zaffar Manhas will be closely watched. The outcome will not only determine the political representation of this newly formed constituency but also reflect the broader political dynamics at play in Jammu and Kashmir. With enhanced security and enthusiasm among the voters , the stage is set for a pivotal election day.(KNS)

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