Can scam-tainted Syed score hat-trick in Kokernag?

SHABIR AHMADSyed score hat-trick

KOKERNAG: A tough triangular contest between the candidates of National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Congress is in the offing in this Assembly constituency of Anantnag district.
Congress has fielded Peerzada Mohammad Syed, who has emerged as the party’s senior and successful face, of late. Syed won from here for the first time in 2002, and retained the seat in 2008 elections. It was probably for his consecutive victories that he was given important portfolios in the Omar Abdullah-led coalition government.
For Syed, however, the third straight win might not be easy to manage as both PDP and NC have made it a tough contest with their choice of candidates.
The PDP has fielded Abdul Rahim Rather while Ghulam Nabi Adigami will be contesting on NC’s ticket.
Rather is taking Syed head-on by trying to exploit his alleged involvement in the examination scam involving his stepson.
“PDP wants to give transparent and corruption-free government to the people. So, it is my moral duty to remind the people of how he (Syed) has been misusing his power while enjoying different portfolios since 2002,” Rather told Kashmir Reader.
“The examination scam in which he helped his stepson is already fresh in the minds of people here. And wherever I go, I don’t miss a chance to remind people of his corrupt practices,” he added.
Syed, who lost his portfolio of School Education after the alleged paper scam made headlines, claims that his image stands clean before the electorate.
“Everybody knows that I had nothing to do with it. I am sure it is not going to do me any harm. Let them tell the people whatever they want to,” Syed told Kashmir Reader.
“I am seeking votes from the people on the basis of my performance. My constituency has 22 higher secondary schools and 17 public health centres. It was due to my efforts that area was given the sub-division status and two new tehsils,” Syed said, calling his constituency an “example of development” among the state’s all Assembly constituencies.
NC’s Adagami, who ended as close second in 2008 polls, is seeking credit in the development that Syed claims to have made possible alone.
“Equal share of credit shall go to me for the establishment of new schools or for setting up of new the administrative units,” Adagami said.
“In the last Assembly election, I secured 12,500 votes, while in the recent Lok Sabha elections I got 13,000 votes. This clearly indicates that I have gained,” he added.
Usually, this constituency of around 100, 000 voters witnesses a high turnout. In the last Assembly elections, 56 percent of the registered electorate came out to exercise their franchise. And this year also, the turnout is expected to be on the higher side considering the enthusiasm displayed by the youth.
“Youths who had stayed away from polls seem to be enthusiastic this time. Their participation in polls may throw up a surprise,” Bashir Ahmad, a local, said.