High stakes for all parties in fourth phase of J&K polls

  • Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Dec 13, 2014 18:48 IST

Stakes are high for all political parties in the fourth phase of voting in the Kashmir Valley on Sunday.

While the National Conference is aiming at retaining all the eight seats from Srinagar, which has been its traditional bastion for decades, the PDP is hoping to make a mark in the state's summer capital and south, where the party has been going strong in past elections.

Two chief minister probables are also in the fray. While incumbent chief minister Omar Abdullah is fighting from Sonwar -- the constituency which has been represented by his father Farooq Abdullah earlier, PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is in the fray from his native Anantnag.

The BJP on the other hand is also making inroads in at least two constituencies Amira Kaddal and Habba Kadal, which have a considerable number of Kashmiri Pandit votes.

The Congress is eyeing the South and is hopeful of a few seats out of the eight seats in the districts going to polls on Sunday. Two Congress sitting MLAs are seeking re-election from South Kashmir.

Sixteen seats in the Valley --- eight from Srinagar, six from Anantnag and two from Shopian districts and two seats from the Jammu region of Vijaypur and Samba --- are going to polls on Sunday.

With the fourth phase of voting, the polling in the Kashmir Valley will be over. However, the constituencies from the winter capital will participate in last phase on December 20.

About 14.7 lakh electorate will decide the fate of 182 candidates, including chief minister Omar Abdullah and three of his cabinet colleagues - rural development minister Ali Mohammad Sagar (Khanyar seat), Haj and auqaf Minister Peerzada Sayeed (Kokernag), tourism minister G A Mir (Dooru) in the fourth phase polls. Speaker Mubarak Gul (Iddgah) is seeking relection in this phase also.

The election commission has set up 1890 polling stations for the fourth-phase. There are 76,747,1 males and 70,555,9 female voters, besides 20 candidates of third gender.

The highest number of 1.2 lakh electorate is in the Batamaloo constituency while the lowest number of 51,000 voters are in the Khanyar segment.

All eyes will, however, be on Sonwar assembly segment, which will witness trilateral contest between chief minister Omar Abdullah, PDP's Mohammad Ashraf Mir and Congress party's Khem Lata Wakhloo. BJP's woman candidate Darkshan Andrabi is also in the fray.

Another interesting contest will be in Zadibal, where NC's sitting MLA Peer Afaq is getting a tough fight from PDP's Abid Ansari, brother of deceased Shia leader Abid Ansari.

The BJP banking on the large number of Kashmiri Pandit votes is also giving tough fight to NC's Shamima Firdous. The BJP has fielded a migrant Kashmiri Pandit, Moti Koul, from the area. Congress's Raman Matoo and PDP's Zafar Mehraj are also in the fray.

In Anantang seat, PDP patron and former CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed seems headed for a win as senior NC leader Mehboob Beg withdrew from the contest. Although the NC has fielded Iftikhar Hussain Misgar from the seat, it is expected to be one-sided contest in favour of Mufti.

The campaigning for the fourth phase of elections ended on Saturday. The final phase of elections will be held on December 20 in the state and results will be declared on December 23.

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