Srinagar: Election campaigning came to end for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat of Jammu and Kashmir even as killing of four political workers in a week’s time cast a shadow of doubt over the voter turnout for the polling to be held on April 24.
Although 12 candidates are in the fray for this Lok Sabha seat spread over 16 assembly segments in four districts, the contest is expected to be a direct fight between ruling National Conference candidate Mehboob Beg and opposition PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.
Both the parties campaigned extensively across the constituency with Chief Minister and National Conference working President Omar Abdullah addressing several rallies in the constituency considered to be a stronghold of the opposition party.
The PDP President and her father, former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, also organised large number of rallies and road shows to woo the voters.
In all, the candidates and their campaigners conducted 53 election rallies and road shows till 6.00 pm today, when the campaigning came to an end.
However, militants also stepped up their activities– mostly in Pulwama district– to target the political workers. A sarpanch affiliated with Congress, his son and a village official were shot dead by militants in Tral area of Pulwama last night.
The incident led to Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad cancelling an election rally in support of National Conference candidate in Tral area today.
A sarpanch of PDP was shot dead by militants in nearby Awantipora area on April 17.
Two policemen were killed in a militant attack on the residence of a youth National Conference leader at Khrew in Pulwama on April 13 before security forces shot dead the two assailants in a brief gun battle.
Pro-freedom leaders also campaigned for a poll boycott in some parts of the constituency before the authorities put a curb on their activities.
Several incidents of protests against mainstream politicians were reported during the campaigning with Sayeed’s cavalcade getting attacked with stone in Shopian town, a constituency represented by PDP MLA Abdul Razak Zawoora.
Omar also faced some protests as Qoimoh town in Kulgam district observed a shutdown when he was scheduled to address a rally there.
Over 12.70 lakh voters including 6.01 lakh women are eligible to exercise their franchise for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, which is the only constituency in Jammu and Kashmir to have elected a female representative to the lower house of the Parliament.
Begum Akbar Jahan, wife of National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, was the first woman Lok Sabha member from the state when she won the 1984 election. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti became the second woman from the state to enter Lok Sabha following her victory in 2004 polls.