SRINAGAR: The smart choice of a candidate by the People’s Democratic Party this time around makes it difficult for the National Conference to retain Hazratbal seat.
In the constituency, the contest is principally between NC’s Mohammad Syed Akhoon and PDP’s Asiea Naqash. The others in or likely to join the fray, and their subsequent efforts to garner support, might prove a case of too little too late.
Since 2002, the constituency has been witnessing boycott in its urban areas and medium to high turnout in rural pockets. Both candidates have been focusing on voters in their neighbourhood, Habbak, and lake settlements. In the process, they have not carried out any consequential canvassing in a large number of areas in the constituency.
There is a method to this lopsided campaign. The candidates are focusing only on those areas where they have a committed worker base and chances of voting are high.
Muhammad Maqbool, a resident of 90 feet Buchpora, said, “I am not aware of even who the candidate is, and I don’t care because elections mean nothing to us.”
The boycott element is significant, but heavy polling was recorded at several polling stations during the Parliamentary elections. In fact, Hazratbal recorded better turnout than other assembly segments, ultimately contributing to the victory of Asiea’s brother-in-law (sister’s husband) and PDP candidate for Srinagar seat, Tariq Hamid Qarra.
In 2009, the constituency went for by-poll when its MLA, Farooq Abdullah, opted out of it. Farooq’s brother Sheikh Mustafa Kamal defeated Asiea with a margin of 1552 votes.
Asiea began her political career when she was elected as a municipal councilor from Habak in 2005. According to Election Commission of India, she had been booked for assaulting an official.
“Her USP is that she is a local and she did some good work when she was a councilor,” said Fayaz Ahmad, a resident of Habak.
“It will be a fight between two locals,” says Abdul Ahad from Habak. Akhoon lives in Batpora and Asiea at Habak. Akhoon won the seat in 1996 and 2002. Ahad sees a tough fight ahead amid a high voter turnout.