Pollsters may have got it wrong about Omar, Mufti

  • Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Dec 15, 2014 21:38 IST

Kashmir's hot seats - Anantnag, Sonwar and Beerwah - from where two chief ministerial candidates Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and Omar Abdullah are contesting polls could turn pollsters' predictions upside down.

The People's Democratic Party (PDP) went into a panic mode on Sunday when Congress candidate Hilal Ahmad Shah, considered an underdog, started taking strong leads against Sayeed.

Sources told HT that the PDP leadership called up supporters in the Anantnag town, from where Sayeed is fighting, and asked them to brisk up their voting, worried by reports that the polling was not going in favour of Sayeed.

Pundits had predicted that it was a unipolar contest for Sayeed, who won the last assembly elections by defeating the NC candidate by 5,000 votes.

It seems the recent entry of rival National Conference (NC) candidate Mehboob Beg, who left his party and went on a door-to-door campaign to support Sayeed, emerged as a factor playing out against the PDP. Sayeed's party workers are sulking over the PDP accepting the support of Beg, an arch rival before cosying up to the party.

"Yes, the Beg factor has played out against the PDP. It has impacted the party performance," admitted a senior PDP leader on the condition of anonymity.

On the other hand, the Congress candidate has soared on the relief work done in Anantnag during the September floods.

Shah's entry has also kept the hopes of the NC underdog candidate Iftikhar Misgar alive too.

In short, in Anantnag a surprise cannot be ruled out.

In Beerwah in Budgam district, and also in Sonwar in Srinagar, the fate of chief minister Omar Abdullah also hangs in a balance.

The son of former PDP minister Sarfaraz Ahmad Khan, Nazir Ahmad Khan who is contesting on a Congress ticket has swept several areas of Beerwah, much to the surprise of PDP and NC.

Even the police reports suggest that Khan is in the race for Beerwah, where Abdullah chose to contest after relinquishing the traditional bastion Ganderbal.

Khan also keeps PDP candidate Shafi Ahmad Wani's hopes alive with the people's mandate fractured between the three evenly.

What could give sleepless nights further to Abdullah is the Sonawar seat where higher voting percentage of around 45% against 36% in 2008 has increased the chances of PDP candidate Muhammad Ashraf Mir.

In 2008, NC patron Farooq Abdullah had defeated the PDP's Sheikh Ghulam Qadir Pardesi by 94 votes. Pardeshi recently joined the NC. Whether he brought his votes along remains to be seen.

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