Anantnag Lok Sabha seat set to witness triangular contest

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Ishtyaq Ahmad

Srinagar, Apr 9: The South Kashmir Lok Sabha seat is set to witness a keen triangular contest in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
In the last parliamentary elections, it was Mehbooba Mufti, who won the south Kashmir Lok Sabha seat. She defeated the then NC candidate Mehboob Beg, who later joined the PDP, by 65,417 votes. The seat fell vacant in June 2016 after Mehbooba resigned, when she won the assembly by-polls. Since then by-polls could not be held due to volatile situation in south Kashmir.
Mehbooba made her maiden entry in the Parliament in 2004, by defeating the then her rival Mehboob Beg by more than 38,000 votes from Anantnag constituency.
However, now it seems no candidate would win the seat by such a huge margin. This time her main opponent is Congress party’s state chief G A Mir, while former High Court Judge Hasnain Masoodi is National Conference candidate. Mir has a significant vote bank in south Kashmir and won Dooru assembly segment twice but lost to PDP’s Syed Farooq Andrabi with a narrow margin of less than 200 votes in 2014 assembly polls.
It is likely to be a triangular contest this time. “Any party can win the elections but nobody can predict the margin of votes,” said Ghulam Rasool, who teaches at a school in Shopian. “South Kashmir was once considered a bastion of the PDP.
In 1998, it was her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who won the south Kashmir Parliamentary seat on the Congress ticket and the polls recorded around 28 percent voter turnout.
In 1999, the Lok Sabha seat of south Kashmir was won by the National Conference candidate Ali Muhammad Naik. The voter turnout stood less than 20 percent. The elections were conducted in backdrop of than National Conference leader Saifuddin Soz, who voted in defiance of the party whip against the BJP-led coalition government during the confidence motion in Lok Sabha. He later joined the Congress party.
Spanning over four districts-Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama, and Shopian- with 16 assembly segments, the restive south Kashmir Lok Sabha constituency will go to the polls in parts in the third, fourth, and fifth phase.
In the last assembly elections, Shangus and Devsar were won by Congress, Pahalgam by National Conference, while PDP won a majority of seats. (KNS)