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Beerwah no cakewalk for Omar

On Tuesday, as the third of the five-phase assemble election began in the Valley, all eyes were on Beerwah, the seat chosen by chief minister Omar Abdullah after relinquishing his traditional bastion Ganderbal.

india Updated: Dec 10, 2014 00:06 IST
Toufiq Rashid
Beerwah

Omar-Abdullah

On Tuesday, as the third of the five-phase assemble election began in the Valley, all eyes were on Beerwah, the seat chosen by chief minister Omar Abdullah after relinquishing his traditional bastion Ganderbal.

The opposition parties had taken a dig at Abdullah for choosing an 'easy seat', but as voters came out through out the day, it was hard to find out if that was really the case.

Many believe Beerwah opened up its arms to the CM, the scion of the Abdullah family that has ruled Kashmir for three generations, considering it favourable for the development of the larger area.

But the rousing reception that Abdullah got when he filed his nomination papers may not be reason enough to expect a victory; Beerwah, it seems, isn't an easy seat.

As HT toured the assembly segment, it witnessed that Beerwah has all the elements of a typical election constituency in the Valley - a mix of boycott and serpentine queues.

On Tuesday morning, at Narbal chowk, the boundary of the constituency, groups of people congregated to make a final bid for boycott. "No leader is worth a vote," they said. A little ahead, however, things were different. By 9.30 am in Gagarpora, 208 votes had already been cast - a good number considering chilly weather these days.

"Voting is our right and wasting it is crime," said Amina and Fahmida.

With a 54% voting by 3 pm itself, large lines were seen in Shia dominated area of Magam besides Aripanthan and the main Beerwah town. According to locals here, the turnout was much less during the recent Lok Sabha elections.

Beerwah has been a PDP bastion as the constituency was represented by PDP candidates in the last two elections. Abdullah is pinning hopes on some recent steps taken by him, like making new administrative units and discontinuing the controversial lease of a firing range in Tosamaidan meadows to the army.

But the vote is clearly fragmented in Beerwah, and Abdullah is fighting a close contest. The local Congress leader Nasir Ahmad Khan seemed to be leading in many areas. Khan, whose father Sarfaraz Khan had won from Beerwah in 2002 elections as a PDP candidate says he is very hopeful. "In this area, people are voting for the candidate not for the party," he told HT. "My good work and my father's name will surely help me this time.".

Who will clinch Beerwah will be found out on December 23 when the votes will be counted. Until then, if any one is happy, it the locals in this town.

Wasim Feroz Mattu, a resident, said, "The constituency is getting a lot of attention now. We hope the candidate chosen from here continues to give us this importance.''