Cong banks on Kashmir region

  • Tarun Upadhyay, Hindustan Times, Jammu
  • Updated: Oct 31, 2014 22:34 IST

The Congress is banking on the Muslim majority Kashmir region this time. The party feels it could suffer reverses in the Hindu dominated Jammu region, where it had won 13 out of the 17 seats in the last assembly elections. The party believes that the Modi wave could still sway away the voters in the Jammu region.

"We are hopeful of performing better in the Kashmir region," said tourism minister GA Mir, a two-time Congress MLA from the Dooru constituency. He is considered close to the Gandhi family.

The party had won three seats in the Valley in the last assembly polls, where its votes were almost vertically divided between the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC).

Before the parliamentary elections, where it lost all the three seats, two in Jammu and one in Ladakh, the party was hopeful of emerging as the single largest party with about 30 seats in the assembly polls. It was mainly banking in the Jammu region and was expecting to get about 25 seats from there.

But after the Lok Sabha elections, it had trailed in 24 out of the 37 assembly constituencies. The party this time has put a realistic estimate of about 10 seats from the Jammu region. And, here too, it's relying on the individual performance of the Congress ministers, who had concentrated more on their constituencies rather than the ministries.

"We had been concentrating in Kashmir for the last six years. But, our real prospects improved after floods, as both the PDP and the NC were missing on the ground. There is a public anger against them," said a leader.

Former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and state unit president Saifuddin Soz were camping in the Kashmir Valley and also brought in much relief from the other parts of the country.

In the Jammu region, the party is also concentrating in the areas where the Muslim votes are likely to be divided. In the Doda region, with six seats having substantial Muslim population, Azad has a huge influence and the party had won all these seats in the last elections.

The party leaders say post parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave has not subsided and it could post major challenge on 24 seats of the Jammu region where Hindus are in majority.

"In state elections, local issues matter most and the Congress has focused on them. But to counter Modi wave, the party and the candidate have to work very seriously," said the leader.

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