Key candidates to contest in fourth phase of J-K polls

Key candidates to contest in fourth phase of J-K polls

Chief ministerial candidates of arch-rivals National Conference and People's Democratic Party, the Speaker of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and three ministers are among the 182 in fray for 18 seats going to polls in the fourth phase in the state on Sunday.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who chose not to contest from Ganderbal, will be seeking election from Sonawar assembly segment in Srinagar district.

He also contested from Beerwah assembly seat in Budgam, which went to polls in the third phase on December 9.

The fourth phase of elections holds key to the National Conference's bid to retain power in the state as it currently represents half of the 18 seats going to polls on Sunday.

The ruling National Conference holds all eight seats of Srinagar district and Vijaypur seat in Samba district of Jammu region.

On the other side, Opposition PDP patron and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is seeking re-election from Anantnag constituency in southern Kashmir.

Sayeed's chances of retaining the seat were strengthened after senior National Conference leader Mehboob Beg withdrew from the contest in his favour besides resigning from National Conference and has been campaigning for the PDP founder.PDP's rise, since its formation in 1999, has mostly been attributed to its good showing in elections in south Kashmir and some pockets of north Kashmir. However, the party is seeking to change that by making a strong push in Srinagar, considered to be bastion of National Conference.

Among the three ministers whose fate will be sealed on December 14, National Conference veteran Ali Mohammad Sagar will be seeking sixth straight term in the legislative assembly. Sagar has not lost an election since 1983.

The Rural Development Minister is up against former trade union leader and PDP candidate Khursheed Alam in Khanyar constituency, which had been considered a safe seat for the ruling party for decades now. However, the competition is expected to be stiff this time around. 

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