In Gool Arnas, it is tough a contest between sitting minister and a prominent local businessman. Congress candidate and sitting MLA Ajaz Ahmad Khan, who is minister of state with independent charge of revenue, relief and rehabilitation, is facing a tough contest from a BJP candidate riding on ‘Modi wave’ Kuldeep Raj Dubey, who is popular among locals.
Son of political and social stalwart late Haji Buland Khan, Ajaz is a two-time sitting MLA. Locals accuse him of favoritism as the development and other public welfare works remained limited to close aides. The hilly constituency lacks basic infrastructure.
In spite of number of development schemes, roads, especially the link roads, are in pathetic condition. In the absence of water supply, people travel miles to fetch potable water. Some areas are still without power. The area has mobile connectivity and people send their mobile phones on mules to the lower reaches to get them charged!
Gool Arnas is in Reasi district, and has 60% Muslims and 40% Hindus. Ajaz has huge influence over Gujjar and Bakarwal community, who are sizeable part of the population, and are likely to vote in his favour. The contest is delicately poised.
BJP’s Dubey holds good rapport in the area among all sections of the society. He left the National Conference a fortnight ago, before joining the BJP. Dubey and his ancestors had close proximities with Ajaz’s family. After being denied ticket by the NC in 2002, Dubey filed papers as independent but withdrew after Ajaz’s insistence and the relationship turned sour thereafter.
In the last few days, Dubey has garnered support of local Muslim leader Sultan Bazi and local Congress leader Raman.
PDP and NC do not hold much chance here.