Lok Sabha Elections: Poll fervor grips Srinagar, voters enthusiastic to cast ballots on May 13

Lok Sabha Elections: Poll fervor grips Srinagar, voters enthusiastic to cast ballots on May 13

The political landscape of Jammu and Kashmir has been undergoing a significant transformation, marked by the region's transition from a state to a union territory after the union government stripped J&K’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories on 05 August, 2019.

However, holding of mega rallies for the first time after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A, amidst the ongoing poll campaign for the Lok Sabha polls in Srinagar and elsewhere in Jammu and Kashmir, the workers of mainstream political parties in the Srinagar are upbeat on casting their votes and to see their demands and issues being raised in the parliament in New Delhi.

During a parliamentary poll campaign rally of National Conference in Srinagar constituency on which Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi is contesting, a political worker told the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that they have been waiting for the change since 2019, and they want their representatives to represent their aspirations in the parliament.

“There is no one who will listen to us, although we were expecting assembly elections, but that unfortunately did not happen. We want to vote for the change and this election is a preparation for the upcoming assembly elections,” says a political worker.

Several others echo similar sentiments, stating that their desire for change and the need for their demands to be addressed on a national platform.

However, amidst this optimism, there's a palpable sense of frustration among residents too. Nazir Ahmad, a local worker of a political party, lamented the absence of a locally elected government, highlighting the challenges faced by people in having their concerns addressed by the bureaucracy, saying that they have been grappling with their day-to-day issues, stating that bureaucracy does not provide them space to be heard.

Another worker expressed optimism about the potential impact of the upcoming polls, citing past disappointments with previous MPs inability to effect substantial change in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Although I don’t expect much from these polls, but still for a change if new age MPs are going to parliament, let us know what they will do there, however the fact is they can’t do anything”, he said.

Shabir Ahmad, echoing similar sentiments, questioned the purpose of electing representatives when decision-making authority still largely rests with New Delhi. Despite acknowledging the significance of the political developments post-August 5, 2019, Ahmad remains sceptical about the efficacy of the electoral process in bringing about meaningful change to the region.

“As long as New Delhi is holding the command and driving things here, what is the purpose of these MPs or MLAs? For me this is just a new ongoing chapter in Kashmir history”, he said.

Political workers from different parties here in Srinagar say that the candidates should demonstrate a strong commitment to serving the interests of their constituents, prioritizing their welfare and development, with expectation that MPs will maintain regular communication, address local grievances, and advocate for regional issues effectively.

They also emphasize the integrity and accountability were fundamental traits expected from candidates seeking electoral mandates, demanding transparency in actions, ethical conduct, and a willingness to be held accountable for their decisions and performance in office.

Amid the rallies and campaigns in Srinagar, the voters expect that the candidates should articulate a clear vision for the socio-economic development of Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, amidst the electoral fervor, some residents have voiced concerns over the use of religious places for political purposes. Criticizing political parties for exploiting sacred sites for their gain, locals have called for restraint and respect for religious sentiments.

“We respect the democratic process, but using religious places for political rallies is unacceptable,” remarked Dawood, a resident of Nowhatta Srinagar. “Our mosques and shrines hold deep significance for us, and they should not be turned into arenas for political campaigns,” he said

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