‘Vote against incarceration’: Two critics of Modi win Indian election from prison


In a surprising turn of events during the 2024 Indian election, two critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi emerged victorious from their respective prisons, sending shockwaves across Kashmir and Punjab. Abdul Rashid Sheikh, known as “Engineer Rashid,” triumphed in Kashmir’s Baramulla constituency, garnering significant support despite being incarcerated in Delhi’s Tihar jail over allegations of terror funding. Celebrations erupted in his hometown of Mawar village, where supporters hailed his win as a resounding “answer to Tihar jail” through the power of the vote.

Meanwhile, in Punjab’s Khadoor Sahib, Amritpal Singh, an advocate for a separate Sikh homeland, clinched victory while detained in Assam under the National Security Act. Singh’s electoral success, with a substantial margin of 400,000 votes, underscored deep-seated discontent against mainstream Indian parties, reflecting a broader sentiment of disillusionment with the ruling government.

These victories not only highlight the electoral prowess of independent candidates but also signal a profound distrust in established political institutions in regions like Kashmir and Punjab. Analysts suggest that these results signify a growing perception among voters that traditional political entities fail to represent their interests credibly. Asim Ali, a political commentator, emphasized the pivotal role of mainstream parties in fostering national integration, noting that their waning credibility has opened up space for fringe figures to gain political traction.

The wins of Rashid and Singh serve as a stark reminder to India’s opposition parties, previously aligned with Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, of the urgent need to rebuild trust and reconnect with disillusioned voters. These developments suggest a shifting political landscape where unconventional candidates can resonate deeply with marginalized voices, challenging the dominance of established political narratives in Indian democracy.


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