BUDGAM: Agents of different political parties were seen offering tea with traditional Kashmiri ‘girdas’ and ‘bakirkhanis’ to their supporters at a polling booth at Ichgam here after exercising their franchise. In a stark contrast to Anantnag constituency which went to the polls last week, the excitement vis-à-vis polling was palpable.
Majority of Budgam, where Shia clerics referred to as ‘Aghas’ in local parlance, rule the roost, had their supporters coming in droves to vote for their favourite leader. These Aghas’ have a huge following, and that was telling on the polling day.
People came out in large numbers to vote in the Budgam township and adjoining villages to express their support for their ‘Agha’. Budgam houses many an Aghas with different political inclinations.
Ruling National Conference MLA and former IT Minister Agha Syed Ruhullah’s residence was surrounded by his supporters, who accompanied him to the polling booth and back to home. And, Agha Abdul Hussain, who recently plunged into pro-India camp and is fighting parliamentary elections for Baramulla constituency as Independent, too seemed to enjoy a good support base.
Same was the case with Agha Mehmood, who had a stint with PDP before returning to NC, having encouraged a good chunk to vote.
For many a voter in Shia-dominated areas, they voted in favour of Aghas, with polling booths hustling and bustling with activity. Long queues were witnessed across Budgam district with people keen to cast their franchise.
One could see polling agents of different political parties at Town Hall Chrar being offered lunch from their party workers, egging on them to “do their job”.
Private vehicles ferrying supporters from their homes to the polling booths was a routine scene for the major part of the day even as young and old, men and women and educated and underprivileged didn’t want to waste the “privilege”.