There is no poll buzz at political parties’ headquarters in Srinagar with elections just days away. While the September floods devastated the offices of various parties, the city’s historic Municipal Park that used to be the venue of election rallies in the past remains in ruins.
The post-flood state of the party offices is visible in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk area. Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) functions from barracks and make-shift rooms.
“Mud had been used in the construction of our two-storey building. It’s very old and the flood has devastated it. It remains unsafe to function from there. We have set up barracks to operate,” said PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar.
Ruling National Conference’s (NC) historic structure of the Nawai Subha complex on the banks of river Jhelum near Zero Bridge, which saw waters coming up to the first storey, has lost its conference rooms and media centre.
“We have shifted to the first floor. The ground floor is completely shut. It’s impossible to operate from there immediately,” said NC spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu. He said the mood in flood-affected constituencies remains sombre this year. “In comparison to the 2008 assembly poll rallies, the mood among people is very low. How can we ask for votes when there are fresh memories of devastation and sufferings?” said Mattu.
Similarly, the Congress has pitched a tent outside its state headquarters for party functions.
“Only one computer room is functional in our three-storey building. The water damaged our computerised records too,” said Congress MLC Ghulam Nabi Monga, whose party headquarters is housed on Srinagar’s Maulana Azad Road, which saw water up to two floors. Many smaller parties also lost their offices.
All eight constituencies of Srinagar were hit by the September 6 floods. The biggest loss for the political parties, however, remains the main public venue of Municipal Park, which hosts rallies at the heart of Lal Chowk.