KUPWARA: People in Kupwara, which on Thursday saw the highest voter turnout among the three districts of Baramulla parliamentary constituency, said that the legacy of party founders was more important to them than the current crop of leaders.
In Handwara, bastion of both the NC and PC, many people’s choice was influenced by their memories of NC founders Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Sheikh Ramzan, and of PC founder Abdul Gani Lone.
“I am an old loyalist of PC from Gani sahab’s days. I began to vote for him in 1980s when he paid me Rs 100 to buy a shoe after he spotted the ragged condition of my shoe. That is when I began to vote, and that is why I continue toda. I vote remembering Gani sahab’s face,” said an elderly man after casting his vote in Handwara.
At the same school, three childhood friends were voting agents for PDP, NC and PC, each herding people to vote for their candidate. Parvaiz Ahmad, the PDP agent, was also president of PDP in Handwara town. The 35-year-old joined the party in 2013 after he was inspired by the vision of late Mufti Sayeed, the founder of PDP.
“PDP is the way for us. It shows the road map. Today there is no government and one can imagine what BJP has done. It banned Jama’at, arrested leaders, restricted highway movement. Our party prevented BJP from doing so when it was in government,” said Parvaiz, who is running a high school where 500 students study.
His other friends, who requested not to be named, were polling agents for PC and NC. Both PC and NC agents had inherited support for the party from their families. One believed in his party’s new idea of development, while the other (of NC) wanted Kashmir’s identity to be preserved.
For Rafiq Ahmad, voting for PC means voting for BJP, because, he said, Sajjad Lone calls Narendra Modi his brother and became a minister on the BJP’s quota. “Why would I vote for him when he is aligned with the party that is hell bent on removing Articles 35A and 370 that protects us,” he said.