Litmus test for PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti in Anantnag LS seat

litmus test for pdp leader mehbooba mufti in anantnag ls seat

Litmus test for PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti in Anantnag LS seat

It is a litmus test for the former Chief Minister and PDP candidate Mehbooba Mufti in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency where the election campaign closed on Thursday for polling on 25th May.

Mehbooba is facing a tough challenge from the National Conference (NC) candidate and religious leader of Gujjar community Mian Altaf and also Apni Party’s Zafar Iqbal Manhas, who is being backed by the BJP that had earlier formed a coalition government with Mehbooba.

The family of Mian Altaf, who is the third generation, has never lost any elections since 1957 when his grandfather won the Assembly seat.

Former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who quit the Congress and formed his own Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP), has fielded Mohammad Saleem Parray.

The party had earlier named Azad as the candidate, but he later backed out saying that his presence was required in Jammu and Kashmir rather than at the centre.

There are ten independents also in the fray in the Anantnag constituency in which the Poonch district and parts of Rajouri were included in the recent delimitation.

Polling for Anantnag seat was originally to be held on 7 May, but was deferred to 25 May on the demand of the BJP, the Apni Party and a few others.

The BJP is not contesting any of three Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir but its prestige is at stake in Anantnag seat where its national General Secretary Tarun Chugh and J&K party chief Ravinder Raina campaigned for the Apni Party candidate in Rajouri and Poonch. Two ministers from Gujarat and one from Madhya Pradesh also joined them.

Former Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, Yudhvir Sethi and Mumtaz Ahmad Khan were among the senior BJP leaders who participated in the roadshow of the Apni Party in the border town of Mehdhar in Poonch before the closure of the campaign this afternoon.

The constituency recently witnessed terrorist attacks in which an Indian Air Force (IAF) Corporal and a BJP activist were killed and a couple from Jaipur injured. Pakistan backed terrorists were frequently showing their presence in Rajouri and Poonch by targeting Army personnel and civilians.

Army, para-military forces and J&K Police have been deployed in strength for peaceful conduct of the polls.

Before closure of the campaign, NC leader Omar Abdullah held a massive rally in South Kashmir’s Noorabad. Omar accused the PDP and Apni Party of having links with BJP.

The NC will work towards bringing back all Kashmiri youth lodged in various jails across the country, Omar said.

It has been a long campaign. Postponement of elections on the Anantnag-Rajouri seat wasn’t needed. We now urge voters to turn out in huge numbers and participate in the electoral process, he added.

DPAP chief Ghulam Nabi Azad, while addressing a rally at Dooru in Anantnag, said that he is against using religion in politics. Those whose chair is in danger often resort to playing the religion card in politics and this has been done at the national level and also in J&K.

Meanwhile, the Apni Party displayed its strength by organising a roadshow with the support of the BJP. Party’s candidate, Zafar Iqbal Manhas cautioned the people of Pir Panjal from the microscopic elements, who are bent upon to disturb brotherhood, and mutual coexistence of the Gujjars and Pahari tribes in the region for centuries.

“We want to provide an opportunity to the detained youth to return to normal mainstream,” he added.

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