Its Mehboob vs Mehbooba in Anantnag

Its Mehboob vs Mehbooba in Anantnag

Slated for polls on April 24, results of this south Kashmir Parliamentary constituency will indicate which party or alliance will rule Jammu and Kashmir after the Assembly polls will be held later this year.

Spread over four districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian, the constituency has 12.72 lakh voters, including 6,01,688 women voters.

Though the constituency is considered as bastion of opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), its candidate lost to incumbent MP Dr Mehboob Beig of the National Conference (NC) in the 2009 election.

However, this time the PDP has pinned all hopes on its firebrand president Mehbooba Mufti to defeat Beig. The PDP has a reason to believe that it will wrest back the seat as out of the 16 MLAs from South Kashmir, the PDP has 12, Congress has two, while the CPM and NC have one each.

In the last Parliamentary election, Beig, backed by the Congress, defeated PDP candidate Peer Muhammad Hussain by a thin margin of 5,224 votes. “But then the Parliament elections followed the Assembly elections and PDP was already in the opposition.

This time anti-incumbency factor may prove in favour of PDP,” a political analyst told Deccan Herald.

This time around, the PDP is expected to do well in almost every Assembly segment except in Dooru and Kokernag, a Congress stronghold where its leaders Ghulam Ahmad Mir and Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed are the sitting MLAs and are cabinet ministers in Omar Abdullah-led coalition government. Analysts believe that low voting percentage may favour Beig, as the NC has a strong cadre-based vote bank here and they will vote anyhow. Higher poll percentage in the last Assembly elections helped PDP win majority of the seats.

 The PDP president said her party’s agenda in Parliament will be to work on the issue of negative image created against Kashmiris in New Delhi. “We need sincere representatives in Parliament who can strongly take up the issues concerning Kashmir at the national level and also try to address the negative image being created against Kashmiris,” Mehbooba told Deccan Herald.

However, there has also been resentment against the PDP candidates in South Kashmir with people complaining that the MLAs failed to raise their issues and address them. “We have hardly seen our MLA in the last five years,” said Shabir Ahmad, a university student from Anantnag. He said that the town has been totally ignored on development front with dilapidated roads, poor drainage system, unsatisfactory healthcare and poor education infrastructure.

NC candidate and incumbent MP Dr Beig believes it will be a smooth ride for him this time. “Apart from the NC party manifesto for which I am seeking votes, the voters of south Kashmir will decide on my last five years’ performance. The voters can themselves see what I have done for them in terms of development and I have represented their aspirations at the national level,” Dr Beig said.

In the 2004 Parliamentary elections, Mehbooba won the seat by defeating Beig by a margin of 38, 931 votes. Mehbooba polled 74,436 while Beig got 35,498 votes. The total polling percentage stood at 15.04.