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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Jammu

Jamaat shuns PDP, Cong ditches NC in Anantnag
Peerzada Ashiq , Hindustan Times
Kulgam, April 25, 2014
First Published: 13:57 IST(25/4/2014)
Last Updated: 13:59 IST(25/4/2014)

In fast changing dynamics that will prove detrimental to both the ruling National Conference (NC) and opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) for the upcoming assembly polls, the former failed to rope in coalition partner Congress' votes despite pre-poll pact, while the latter has been completely shunned by socio-religious group Jammat-e-Islami (JeI) in south Kashmir's Anantnag parliament constituency.


The significant vote bank of JeI in south Kashmir's Kulgam and Shopian districts on Thursday completely boycotted the polls.

In 2002, the Jamaat votes, angry with the NC, ensured that the PDP sails with good number of seats from these two districts.

"No Jamaat cadre is voting this time. It is blatant lie that we vote for the PDP. Even if (hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali) Geelani or Jamaat chief votes now, they will no more be a Jamaati," said Bashraat Ahmad, a Jamaat cadre in its bastion Qoimoh.

One can gauge the mood of Jamaat cadre from the fact that pockets dominated by the socio-religious group like Qoimoh saw very poor voting figures. Only 54 votes were polled out of 767 at Kulgam's Qoimoh area around 1 pm. The mood was same in all polling booths in the area.

The area also witnessed stone-throwing from angry protesters favouring the separatist poll boycott call led by Geelani.

Security forces used force to quell the violent protests.

Similarly, Jamaat bastions like Khodwani and Arwani areas remained indifferent to the polls.
"We are with the poll boycott by conviction," said a Jamaat member at Shopian on the condition of anonymity.

Jamaat-dominated pockets of Shopian town remained tense and people preferred to stay indoors.
In 2002, Jamaat, in a tactical voting, polled for the PDP, which did tilt several assembly seats towards the party.

While the Jamaat has completely shunned the PDP, NC's coalition partner Congress too has failed to put up a joint face with the NC, which can set a bad trend for the two parties, with a pre-poll pact, for the upcoming polling at Srinagar and Baramulla constituencies.

Both Congress-represented assembly constituencies of Dooru and Kokernag saw poor voting percentage despite being least-affected militancy areas and the votes were apparently split.

"Yes, the NC and Congress did not put up a joint face," admitted Parvaiz Ahmad, NC's polling agent at Kokernag's Bindoo-Zolangaam.

Of the 709 votes at Kokernag's Devalgam polling booth, only 158 were polled by 3pm. NC polling agent Mukhtair Ahmad expressed surprise over "Congress workers not turning up in numbers as calculated by the NC".

Significantly, Congress stalwarts like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Saif-ud-din Soz and Ghulam Ahmad Mir did campaign together with chief minister Omar Abdullah and other NC leaders for joint candidate Mehboob Beg from the Anantnag constituency.


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