LS polls: It’s Mehbooba Vs Mehboob in Anantnag

SHABIR AHMAD
Anantnag: While 12 candidates are trying their luck from this south Kashmir parliamentary segment which is slated for polls on April 24, the actual contest will be between ruling National Conference’s Mehboob Beg and opposition People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti.
Though both Beg, who is seeking re-election, and Mehbooba are busy wooing voters and are optimistic about their victory, political pundits say that different factors may play spoilsport for both.
“The poll tie-up with Congress may have raised the hopes of NC’s Beg but it depends on how the ground level Congress workers respond to the directive of the party high command. Right now there seems to be strong resentment among them against the high command for its poll tie-up decision,” a lecturer in Anantnag Degree College told Kashmir Reader.
“If this resentment continues and top party leaders fail to convince their workers to vote for the NC candidate, the position of Mehbooba Mufti will get stronger,” the lecturer said.
Spread over four districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama, the constituency has 12.72 lakh voters including 60,1688 woman voters who are eligible to cast their votes at 1,615 polling stations to be set up in the constituency.
Beg had defeated PDP’s Peer Mohammad Hussain by a margin of 5000 votes in the last election.
“It was the pre-poll alliance between NC and Congress that had helped Beg in 2009, and this time too he will bank on the Congress votes,” the analyst said.
Though the some visible faces of Congress are seen campaigning for Beg for last over a week, their statements which appeared in local newspapers before the poll tie-up announcement clearly indicate that they too were averse to any alliance with NC.
“When it is a coalition, both the partners should learn to maintain its sanctity. But NC has violated the coalition ‘dharma’. Our workers and supporters are not ready for any poll alliance with NC in future. We have expressed our concerns to the party high command. We hope the high command will not take any decision against the wishes and aspirations of ground level Congress workers,” a senior Congress leader and campaign committee member, G A Mir had told reporters a week before the Congress high command announced its poll tie-up with the NC.
A district level Congress leader in south Kashmir, who wished anonymity, said that in the last parliamentary polls Beg had lead in both the assembly segments represented by Congress MLAs.
However, the low poll percentage and poor performance of PDP MLAs in south Kashmir may prove worrisome for Mehbooba Mufti too.
“Out of 16 assembly segments in four districts of south Kashmir 13 are represented by PDP. She has a definite edge over her rival but it will depend upon how will be the voter turnout,” said Ghulam Rasool, a senior citizen and a keen political observer.
However, the poor performance of PDP MLAs in their respective constituencies can make it a tough walk for Mehbooba. Few days ago Mehbooba while organizing road shows in different areas of Tral had to face the ire of the people who accused the local MLA of failing to deliver.
A journalist who had covered Mehbooba’s road show in Tral said that many top PDP leaders who were accompanying her had to apologize to the angry people when they refused to listen her in protest against the poor performance of the PDP MLA.
“There is no development visible in any area of the constituency. The villages we visited still resemble those stone-age hamlets. People everywhere blamed the local MLA for the poor development,” the journalist told Kashmir Reader.
Anger is also brewing among the people against their MLAs in several other PDP-represented constituencies like Shangas, Devsar, Pulwama and Wachi. Wachi is represented by Mehbooba in the state assembly.
“None of these constituencies have witnessed any development during last five years. MLAs concerned cite the reasons of being in opposition for the same but that is no justification,” said a political analyst Mushtaq-ul-Islam.
He said that recently the people of Watchi were on strike for nearly a month seeking Tehsil status for the area but the MLA concerned did not bother to visit the area even a once. “There is a strong resentment against the MLA. It is he who has to go to the people seeking votes for his party candidate,” Islam said.