News Karnataka
Saturday, October 01 2022
Jammu - Kashmir

Srinagar: Who are the 25 lakh ‘new voters’ who’ve got politicians worked up?

Who are the 25 lakh 'new voters' who've got politicians worked up?
Photo Credit : IANS

Srinagar: The statement made by J&K’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Hirdesh Kumar, in which he said 25 lakh new voters would exercise their franchise during the forthcoming Assembly elections, has ruffled many a feather among the political parties.

All regional and national political parties, except the BJP, said that these 25 lakh voters would be outsiders registered to help the BJP in the elections.

Farooq Abdullah, President of the National Conference (NC), said all these new voters would be from outside J&K.

“This number could be 25 lakh, 50 lakh or 60 lakh,” Abdullah told the media.

Mehbooba Mufti, President of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said that the intention to include 25 lakh voters from outside is to change the electoral demography of J&K.

The chorus was picked by the Congress, Apni Parry, Peoples Conference, CPI, CPI(M) and even the Akali Dal.

A clarification from the government of India was made that these 25 lakh new voters would not be all outsiders.

The Election Commission of India said that a large number of local youth have attained the voting age of 18 since the last elections were held here in 2014.

Who then would be the outside voters who could become eligible to exercise franchise in J&K during the Assembly elections?

Hirdesh Kumar told the media that after the abrogation of Article 370, the Representation of People Act became applicable to J&K and as to who could become a voter here would be decided according to the provisions of this act.

“Anybody ordinarily residing in J&K can register as a voter. Such a person can be here because of job, education, as labourer or for business purposes.

“One does not have to be a permanent resident to become a voter now. Likewise, persons serving the army or the paramilitary forces at peace stations like Jammu can get registered as voters here, provided they give up their voting rights at their native places outside J&K,” the Chief Electoral Officer said, adding that whether or not a person applying to be registered as a voter is eligible would be decided by the district electoral officers.

“Similarly, locals serving in outside states in the paramilitary forces can register themselves as service voters and vote in the J&K Assembly elections or register themselves at places where they are posted to become voters there,” the election commission officials said.

This has clearly dispelled the notion that 25 lakh new voters, who become eligible to cast their vote in the forthcoming Assembly elections, would all be outsiders registered because they are ordinarily residing in J&K.

How many outsiders are ordinarily living in J&K at present because of job, education, labour or business and how many army personnel are posted at the peace stations of Jammu or Srinagar?

Although estimates can vary, but it is highly unlikely that all such voters would be more than three lakh.

How much difference would these probable three lakh voters make during the forthcoming Assembly elections in J&K?

Given the fact that an overwhelming majority of people is expected to vote in the forthcoming Assembly elections, both in the Jammu division and the Valley, the difference made by those casting votes because they are ‘ordinarily living in J&K’ would at best be marginal.

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