Campaigning ends for Srinagar parliamentary seat

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Srinagar, Apr 16: Campaigning, which remained by and large peaceful despite threat perception, came to an end on Tuesday evening in Srinagar Parliamentary constituency, which is going to polls on April 18 in the second phase in Kashmir valley.
National Conference (NC) president Dr Farooq Abdullah is seeking re-election from the constituency, which was, barring twice, represented by NC since the party shunned the plebiscite demand and joined the election process after Indira-Sheikh accord in 1977.
Though there are 12 candidates seeking mandate from the constituency spread over Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts in central Kashmir, the main contest would be between the NC, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peoples Conference (PC). Congress has not fielded any candidate against Dr Abdullah following agreement that NC will not put up any candidate in Jammu region to avoid divide of secular votes.
Meanwhile, BJP, which has very little base in the constituency, has also put up their candidate. Interestingly, the Shiv Sena has also put up their candidate in the constituency which has no base.
The canvassing witnessed senior leaders of different political parties attracting good crowd during their rallies and public meetings in the constituency, amidst unprecedented security arrangements.
Ironically, the development issue has taken a back seat as leaders tried to woo the voters raising the issues of threat to Article 370 and 35 A, ban on civilian traffic twice in a week on Srinagar-Jammu national highway and National Investigation Agency (NIA) raids, besides Public Safety Act (PSA).
The NC, PDP and PC have blamed each other for the prevailing situation in the valley besides erosion of special status of the state. Three former chief ministers — Dr Farooq Abdullah, his son and NC vice president Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti president PDP — staged dharna on the highway against ban to draw the attention of voters.
Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for accusing the Abdullahs and Muftis of trying to break India, National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Monday said that if his family had wanted to break the country, there would have been no India. “NC fights for the rights of all the people, irrespective of their religion and we will continue to fight. Even if PM Modi tries his best, he will not be able to break India. I want to tell him from here today that you will break, but India will not. You accuse the Abdullahs of trying to break India, if we wanted to break India, there would have been no India then,” Dr Abdullah said, while addressing a rally in S K Park, on Monday here.
Besides, Dr Abdullah, the other candidates in the fray, included Aga Syed Mohsin of PDP, Sheikh Khalid Jehangir of BJP, Abdual Rashid Ganie of National Panthers Party (NPP), Showkat Hussain Khan of Janata Dal (United), Abdul Khaliq Bhat of Shiv Sena (SS), Irfan Raza Ansari of People Conference (PC), Nazir Ahmad Lone of Rashtriya Jankranti Party (RJP), Nazir Ahmad Sofi of Manvadhikar National Party, Independents Bilal Sultan, Sajjad Ahmad Dar and Abdul Rashid Banday.
BJP has also been able to hold meetings of party workers in the constituency, mostly indoor. Bye-election in the constituency was held after PDP Member of Parliament (MP) Tariq Hameed Karra resigned from the seat and party after PDP again formed coalition government headed by Mehbooba Mufti with BJP despite his opposition. Karra had defeated Dr Abdullah in 2014 election. However, Dr Abdullah won the By-election by securing 48,555 votes while his nearest rival of PDP Nazir Ahmad Khan got 37,779 votes in the boycott hit election.
Out of 15 Assembly segments, NC and PDP had won seven each while one went to PDF in the constituency in 2014 when no party could manage to get magic 44 figure in 87-member-House. Later, PDP and BJP formed a coalition government.
Meanwhile, 12.95 lakh electors will exercise their democratic right on April 18 in the constituency, spread over 15 Assembly segments comprising of three districts of Central Kashmir — Ganderbal, Srinagar and Budgam.
According to the figures provided by the office of Chief Electoral Officer, J&K, the Srinagar PC has 12,95,304 registered voters, including 627,282 females, 744 service voters (728 males and 16 females) and 26 transgender. The election authorities have set up 1716 Polling Stations for the smooth conduct of elections in the constituency.
Ganderbal district, with two Assembly segments of Kangan and Ganderbal has 176,650 electors including 85,738 females, 116 service voters (113 males and 3 females) and a single transgender voter. The authorities have set up 235 polling stations across the district.
District Srinagar, comprising eight Assembly segments of Hazratbal, Zadibal, Eidgah, Khanyar, Habba Kadal, Amira Kadal, Sonawar and Batamaloo has 649,236 electors including 315,702 females, 32 service voters (31 males and 1 female) and 10 transgender voters. The authorities have set up 857 polling stations across the district.
NC headed by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was the first to represent the constituency in 1967. However, Shamim Ahmad Shamim, an Independent candidate, supported by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah won in 1971. In 1977, Begum Akbar Jehan, wife of Sheikh Abdullah, got elected. Dr Abdullah represented the constituency in 1980, 2009 and 2017. Omar Abdullah won 1989, 1999 and 2004, when he became minister in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government at the centre.
The NC candidates Abdul Rashid Kabuli represented the seat in 1984 and Mohammad Shafi Bhat in 1989 while Congress nominee Ghulam Mohammad Mir Magami won in 1996 when NC boycott the polls while PDP Tariq Hamid Karra in 2014.
No elections could be held in 1991 due to militancy in the valley.
Similarly, Budgam district with five Assembly segments of Chadoora, Budgam, Beerwah, Khansahib and Chrar-i-Sharif has 469, 418 electors including 596 service voters (584 males and 12 females) and 15 transgender voters. As many as 624 polling stations have been set up in the district for the polling.
In the Parliamentary Constituency, the highest number of electors is registered in Batamaloo Assembly segment with 127,916 electors including 61,771 females, 8 male service voters and six transgender voters. The ECI has setup 163 polling stations across this Assembly segment.
Khanyar Assembly segment of Srinagar district has lowest number of 47944 electors including 24,504 males, 23,439 females and a single transgender voter. 86 polling stations have been established in the Assembly segment for the smooth conduct of polls.