Will Congress man stall Madni’s hat-trick in Divsar?

Divsar: Although the People’s Democratic Party has emerged invincible in south Kashmir, scoring a third consecutive victory in Divsar constituency appears difficult this time for party candidate Sartaj Madni.
Divsar, where polls will be held on December 2, was held by the National Conference for 25 years until Madni defeated four-time NC legislator and former minister Ghulam Ahmad Shah in 2002.
Madni retained the seat in 2008, securing 13,500 votes followed by Shah at 10,500 votes. An independent candidate, Rafiq Khan, had secured 7,300 votes while Congress candidate stood at fourth place securing 5,300 votes.
While Madni, like other PDP candidates is riding on the “PDP wave”, people in Qazigund belt of the segment appear to be dissatisfied with his performance.
“In his first term he did well but after he won again in 2008 he started ignoring the constituency. See the condition of the roads in the constituency. It is pathetic. Several areas continue to crave drinking water,” said Shahnawaz Wani of Zadoora village.
People of Qazigund also accuse Madni, who is brother-in-law of PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, of favoritism in sanction of developmental works.
“Madni sahib preferred Divsar area over Qazigund. He got the degree college sanctioned for Kelam village and Qazigund was ignored. If any development has happened in Qazigund it was during the regime of Ghulam Mohammad Shah who represented the constituency till 1996,” said a social activist Farooq Ahmad.
Congress candidate Mohammad Amin Bhat is banking on this dissatisfaction. He said he was confident of victory because “people are suffering here in the absence of good roads and crave for basic amenities”.
However, Madni loyalist Rafiq Ahmad of Kelam village, said that before 2002 the people of the constituency were “virtually living in Stone Age.”
“It was only during Madni’s first tenure when PDP was in power that the people saw electricity and macadmised roads. If developmental projects were halted in the area, NC-Congress coalition is to be blamed,” said Rafiq.
The rehabilitation of flood victims is another major poll issue in the area with flood-hit people accusing the political parties of doing politics on their sufferings.
“After the announcement of polls the candidates have started visiting us and begging for votes. But we don’t expect any help from anybody. They are simply playing politics over the issue. Had they been serious they would have ensured that the allotment of land to us for the construction of houses,” said a group of homeless people putting up in hospital building at Kelam.
A political analyst, Rafiq Ahmad, however says that it will be a close contest between the sitting MLA, Congress and NC candidates.
According to Rafiq, NC veteran GA Shah has loyal voters in many pockets of the segment, but Madni too has a strong support base in many areas. Besides, Madni’s fortunes would be boosted by Mohammad Shafi who joined the PDP recently after being denied ticket by the NC. Shafi has a sizable following in Qazigund.