Farooq desperate to win back Srinagar

Bypolls: Outcome to depend on several factors including seperatists' call

Farooq desperate to win back Srinagar

National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah’s appeal for the support of separatist-leaning Jamaat-e-Islami in the upcoming bypoll shows his desperation to win back the politically strategic Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency on April 9.

The result of the constituency would depend upon multiple factors, significant among them being the boycott call by separatists. Sensing the mood of the people, Abdullah appealed to the Jamaat cadre for unity against “communal and anti-Kashmir forces."

Charismatic Abdullah, who is pitted against Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (PDP) lesser-known candidate Nazir Ahmad Khan, was defeated by PDP’s Tariq Karra in 2014 general elections. Karra, however, resigned from the PDP last year and joined the Congress in February. Now, Karra is campaigning for Abdullah as the latter is the NC-Congress candidate.

According to political experts, it would be a close contest between Abdullah and Khan, though the former has an edge over the later.

“While Abdullah will be banking on anti-incumbency and resentment of Kashmiris against the PDP for aligning with the BJP, Khan has advantage of being the candidate of ruling party.

“In case the voter turnout is lesser than 20%, Abdullah may find it difficult to wrest back Srinagar seat from the PDP,” Showkat Ahmad, a senior journalist, told DH.

“However, if voters turn up to polling booths on April 9, the PDP’s chances of retaining Srinagar seat will be bleak, as the party’s graph is on decline since it formed the government with the BJP.
The civilian killings during 2016 unrest has also dented PDP’s vote bank across Kashmir and Srinagar Parliament segment,” he added.

The pro-boycott fervour picked up in Srinagar after last week’s gun-battle at Chadoora – in which one militant and three civilians were killed.

Besides anti-incumbency, the PDP is also battling with internal dissensions, as many MLAs were not accommodated in the Mehbooba government.

On the other hand, the NC could capitalise by cornering a larger Shia vote-bank in Budgam.

The induction of influential Shia leader Aga Mehmood to Upper House of J&K Assembly on the NC ticket recently would definitely benefit Abdullah in the bypoll.

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