A polling official inks the finger of a voter at a polling booth during the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Kashmir.(PTI)
A polling official inks the finger of a voter at a polling booth during the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Kashmir.(PTI)

J-K DDC polls: North Kashmir’s key seats likely to seal fate of 3 powerful political families

Sangrama which is part of Baramulla district has two DDC seats - Wagoora and Sangrama. While the first one is reserved for women candidates, on the second seat there is a triangular contest.
By Mir Ehsan | Hindustan Times, Sangrama
UPDATED ON DEC 04, 2020 10:28 PM IST

Two District Development Council seats of north Kashmir’s Sangrama constituency are likely to decide the fate of three powerful political families of Kashmir.

Sangrama which is part of Baramulla district has two DDC seats - Wagoora and Sangrama. While the first one is reserved for women candidates, on the second seat there is a triangular contest between the Apni Party candidate former legislator, Shoiab Lone; PDP spokesman, Suhail Bukhari, who is an alliance candidate; and an independent candidate Irfan Hafiz. Polling for both the seats was held on Friday amid tight security and more than 30 per cent voters exercised their franchise on both DDC seats.

On the Wagoora reserved seat, four women contestants are in the fight, including Safeena Baig, wife of former J&K deputy CM and former MP Baramulla, Muzaffar Baig. The Baramulla MP recently resigned from the PDP as its patron after his wife, who was also the head of PDP’s women wing, was denied ticket by the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD). The seat was given to the NC candidate.

Safeena contested as an independent candidate. Baig’s had an influence over two seats Baramulla and Sangrama, of late the influence got diminished after Baig’s nephew and former legislator, Javeed Baig, left the PDP and joined the Apni party. Baig’s another brother also joined the Apni party. A day before the polls, Baig’s son from his first wife, Zahid Baig also released a critical video against Safeena on the social media.

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“This is a very important election for Baig, especially for Safeena and if she manages to win the DDC seat, they (Baigs) can start afresh from this place,” said young businessman Fayaz Ahmad after casting his vote at a polling station set up inside Government school Sultanpora.

“More than 300 people voted in the first four hours and more people are coming and it’s going to be a triangular contest between Safeena, Apni Party candidate and the alliance candidate,” he said, adding that it could be a close contest but for senior Baig (Muzaffar Hussain) everything is at stake.

At Kreeri village, the native village of former minister and NC leader, Basharat Bukhari, the voters came in small groups to cast their votes at three polling stations set up at local higher secondary school while polling agents were distributing voting slips among the voters.

“This is a local election but it’s going to be very important for future of three leaders Muzaffar Baig, Bashaarat Bukhari and Shoaib Lone. Baig and Bukhari had been former ministers while Lone’s father was also a former minister. This time the enthusiasm of the past election is missing but the polls are important for all these political families,” said BDC chairman Kreeri, Ghulam Mohiuddin Sofi while asking his supporters to vote on the symbol of a particular candidate. Another voter Shabir Ahmad said that for the political families it is going to be a turf war. “It will be interesting to see which family will emerge victorious.”

Lones are contesting on both the seats while Nasreena contested from Wagoora, Shoiab contested from Sangrama. He lost two previous assembly election with a thin margin and this time his win is crucial. He left Congress in March and joined Apni Party in March. Bashaarat Bukhari won the last assembly elections on the PDP ticket and was minister in the last BJP PDP government but resigned from the PDP and joined NC before August 5, 2019.

At neighbouring Shrakawara village, very few people had turned towards the polling station compared to the previous polls. “We had powerful people representing us in the past when J&K was a full-fledged state. Now, these big leaders are fighting panchayat polls. They are doing it for their political survival,” said Nisar Ahmad who didn’t cast his vote terming it a futile exercise.

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