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Low turnout predicted for Jammu and Kashmir polls

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
November 06, 2008 09:32 IST
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Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir are worried about the low turn out in the forthcoming assembly polls in the trouble-torn state. While the cynics put the turn out to be as low as 25 per percent, the political parties are putting up a brave front and dismiss such claims as absurd.
"All this talk of a low key campaign and no public rallies is a canard that is being spread by vested interests. If that is being written in the newspapers, in the valley and elsewhere, then there would be no line at the party headquarters. Thousands are thronging the National Conference offices to get mandate. People are running from one party to another to get a mandate. Three phases of polls have already been notified and the fourth phase will be notified on Thursday. You would see people would come out in thosands to cast their vote and elect a new government," Dr Farooq Abdullah told on the phone from Srinagar.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Yusuf Tarigami, agreed with Adbullah as far as voting turn out is concerned. "I wish we had early elections. The turn out may not be as good as it would have been before the temple land controversy. But the campaign is slowly picking up and you would be surprised by the voters turn out in the ultimate analysis," Tarigami claimed. 
But those watching the J&K elections closely affirm that electioneering is still to pick up the momentum.  There may be less enthusiasm with no traces of rallies and public meetings, top editors of leading newspapers from the valley said. But they too concede that boycott call given by the separstists has not dampened the spirits of the voters and ticket seekers.

"We are going to contest alone and put up candidates on all the seats," congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told Asked if the party would consider forming a government in post-poll alliance, Tewari said that the party would cross the bridge when it comes to it.
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's Peoples Democratic Party has decided to go it alone in the polls.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi