RAJPORA: Two-time MLA from Rajpora constituency Syed Bashir’s decision to contest the Assembly poll as an independent candidate has left PDP nominee and noted economist Haseeb Drabu on a slippery pitch.
The PDP had expelled Bashir for ‘anti-party’ activities, a euphemism for revolting against the leadership’s decision to field Drabu who joined the party only a few months ago.
Bashir won the seat in 2002 with a margin of 7,000 votes. In 2008, he retained it with a slender margin of 947 votes.
The sitting legislator also took credit for the lead of 5,000 votes the party president Mehbooba Mufti managed from this Assembly segment of Islamabad Lok Sabha seat this year. He is confident of scoring a hat-trick.
“If I have managed to retain the constituency for two consecutive terms it is because of my own popularity and people’s support. PDP as a party has no vote bank in the constituency,” Bashir said.
“It is my supporters who forced me to contest as an independent candidate,” Bashir told Kashmir Reader. His loyalists had held protests and asked the party to revoke his expulsion.
A local journalist, Khursheed Ahmad, believes the row has split the PDP vote bank, easing the fight for National Conference candidate Ghulam Mohiuddin Mir, who had unsuccessfully contested the last election as an independent candidate against Bashir after being denied the ticket by his party.
“NC has already fielded a strong candidate. Bashir has a strong support base in many pockets of the constituency which witnessed a lot of development during his stint. Even if he loses, he will cut the PDP vote and that will leave NC in an advantageous position,” said Bilal Ahmad, a local.
Sameer Ahmad, a post-graduate, said that another factor that might not work in Drabu’s favour is the tendency of the educated class to stay away from polls.
“No doubt Drabu is popular among this section of the people, but the people who vote don’t know him. How he fares will depend on how well he succeeds in convincing the educated class to vote,” Sameer added.