Early Times Report
JAMMU, Apr 20: Things in Kashmir have changed and changed drastically. The message from Srinagar is that the Abdullahs, including Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti are no more leaders even of Kashmir. This could be seen from what happened in the Kashmir's Srinagar Lok Sabha Constituency on April 18. That day, 85.9% of the total eligible voters didn't go out to cast their vote. Srinagar seat, which is spread over three districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal and which has 15 assembly segments, recorded only a paltry 14.01% voter turn out.
In other words, less than 1,80,000 voters out of a total of 12,95,304 voters exercised their right to vote. Kangan assembly segment recorded 23.5% voter turn out, Ganderbal 13.0%, Hazratbal 9.5%, Zadibal 8.3%, Eidgah 3.4%, Khanyar 9.1%, Habba Kadal 4.3%, Amira Kadal 4.9%, Sonawar 12.5%, Batamaloo 7.9%, Chadoora 9.9%, Budgam 18.8%, Beerwah 23.6%, Khan Sahib 24.3% and Chrar-e-Sharif 32.1%.
There were 12 candidates in the fray, including those belonging to the NC, the PDP, the Peoples Conference (PC) of Sajad Lone. That day, not even one voter cast his/her vote in as many as 90 polling booths in the constituency from where NC president and 3-time Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah was seeking people's mandate to enter the Lok Sabha. And such a low voter turn out despite the fact that the Abdullahs and the Mufti had left no stone unturned to motivate the Kashmiri Muslim voters to go out and cast their votes if they wanted to save Kashmir and protect its special status.
As for Jammu and Ladakh, the NC and the PDP didn't field any candidate in any of the three Lok Sabha constituencies. Jammu has two constituencies and Ladakh one. In 2014 also, the NC had not fielded any candidate either from Jammu or from Ladakh. It had supported the Congress candidates and all the three lost to the BJP. The PDP had also not fielded its candidate from Ladakh in 2014. It did field two candidates from the Jammu constituencies in 2014 and both lost their face because the BJP captured both the seats with an impressive margin.
All in all, it can be said that the Abdullahs and the Mufti have lost their sheen and appeal and that they have become virtually irrelevant even in Kashmir. for all practical purposes.