Phase 3: Omar among bigwigs facing poll test

  • Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Dec 09, 2014 08:44 IST

The third crucial phase of Jammu and Kashmir elections on Tuesday will seal the fate of big names, including chief minister Omar Abdullah, his three cabinet ministers and ten sitting legislators.

The political leverage of both the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is boxed in this phase.

The third phase of the five-phase elections will see 13.69 lakh voters cast their franchise in the state in the backdrop of the worst violence that left 22 dead in the past one week in militant attacks in the valley.

It remains to be seen if the violence plays a factor in several militancy-infested constituencies spread over three districts of Pulwama (four seats), Baramulla (seven) and Budgam (five seats) in the valley. Tral, Pulwama and Uri have seen grenade attacks and storming of an army installation in the run up to the polls.

Sixteen seats going to the polls on Tuesday will have 144 candidates trying their luck.
The spotlight, however, will be on chief minister Omar Abdullah's newly-chosen second constituency of central Kashmir, Beerwah, where he is pitted against opposition PDP's sitting legislator Muhammad Shafi Wani. Shia votes, consolidated by the National Conference over a period of time, remain the key to victory here.

Abdullah's three cabinet colleagues -- NC's Abdul Rahim Rather, Congress' Taj Mohiuddin and Democratic Party Nationalist's Ghulam Hassan Mir -- will face the test of anti-incumbency factor from Charar-e-Sharief, Uri and Tangmarg constituencies respectively.

Both the NC and the PDP have to spike seats in this phase. For the PDP, the challenge is to retain four seats of Pulwama district, a stronghold of the party. It has fielded a new entrant, former banker Haseeb Drabu, from Rajpora. The NC will try to increase its kitty in central Kashmir with the PDP making inroads there.

NC president Farooq Abdullah's brother Mustafa Kamal, who has also moved from Srinagar, is constesting from North Kashmir's Tangmarg constituency.

Congress' young face Salman Soz will take on PDP's Javaid Baig, cousin of member of parliament Muzaffar Hussain Baig, in Baramulla.

Sopore, which is hometown of hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani, will be closely watched for poll percentage. Only 19% of voters in Sopore had exercised their franchise in the 2008 assembly polls.

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