With an eye on the 2014 assembly polls, the shrill of mainstream political parties over underdevelopment of Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar is growing louder, and ugly too.
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday accused the ruling National Conference (NC) of employing "dirty tricks" to hold on to Srinagar.
"The city was the worst sufferer of the NC's misrule and emotional exploitation in the past. The party continues to play games and using all unfair means to prevent a political contest to retain its false monopoly (over Srinagar)," said Mehbooba in Srinagar.
The PDP, accused by the rival parties of being mainly a rural areas-based political party, is digging their heels deep in the city to take on the NC in a turf known for its separatist leanings.
The PDP is planning a major district-wise and Srinagar city protests on January 5 over shortage of electricity, gas, rations and victimisation of youth on false charges.
"Thousands of youth have been framed in false cases. In spite of chief minister's (Omar Abdullah) repeated announcements, the cases had not been withdrawn," alleged Mehbooba.
She claimed the decades old rule of the NC has rendered Srinagar without a democratic voice. "While the boycott politics was promoted by the ruling party to benefit from, development process too is guided either by narrow political considerations or the objective of providing contracts to favourite contractors, with major chunk of funds going into the pockets of politicians," alleged the PDP president.
Mehbooba rued that "for nearly five decades the discourse of development under the NC had not gone beyond streetlights, which hardly ever have power, lanes, drains and menial jobs." "Such a state of affairs is not witnessed even in places like Somalia and Afghanistan," she said.
Returning the tirade, the ruling NC spokesman Tanvir Sadiq accused the PDP of hoodwinking the people of the city. "The whole winter she (Mehbooba) is in Delhi enjoying her vacation. Then strangely for a day comes to Srinagar only to call for protest," said Sadiq.
Accusing Mehbooba of igniting sentiments of people on one pretext or other, Sadiq said, "The PDP talks about youth victimisation but the facts speak for itself. In their three years tenure, it has the ignominious distinction of using the PSA (Public Safety Act) according to their whims on more than 1,266 young students and youth."
The NC spokesman claimed the PDP's obituary is being written and will be completed by 2014, while referring to the upcoming assembly polls. "Mehbooba and Mufti (Muhammad Sayeed) have lost their own constituencies (in recent council polls). They have no moral right to stick to their seats of Wachi and Anantnag after being routed in south Kashmir. They should immediately resign," said Sadiq.
He said the Omar Abdullah administration was practicing the doctrine of 'actions speak louder than words.
"The PDP is a spent force trying to test the water of Srinagar. They will get the same humiliation in Srinagar as they got in Wachi and Anantnag," he said.
Srinagar is emerging as a major battleground for the 2014 polls. It has eight assembly seats and witnessed lower voting percentage for the past two decades. The eight seats, however, has the NC giving an edge over the PDP.
With the NC forming polls alliances with the Congress, the opposition's fate depends on eight seats in Srinagar, if people come out to vote in 2014.