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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Sajad Lone, Omar Abdullah get into the ring for Baramulla bout

The entry of two-time MLA and jailed leader Sheikh Abdul Rashid, popularly known as Engineer Rashid, into the fray has added another interesting dimension to the polling.
Last Updated : 14 May 2024, 20:03 IST
Last Updated : 14 May 2024, 20:03 IST

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Baramulla: When Baramulla Parliament constituency in north Kashmir goes to polling in the fifth phase of General Elections on May 20, the Valley will see the most high-profile contest between National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah and Sajad Lone of the People’s Conference.

The contest in the Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency reflects the complex socio-political landscape of Kashmir, with competing narratives and aspirations shaping the electoral dynamics. From the bustling markets of Sopore town, once the hotbed of militancy and separatism, to the serene shores of Wular Lake, every corner of this constituency has its own unique identity and charm.

Politically, Baramulla has always been a hotbed of activity, with its residents actively participating in the democratic process. Elections here are fiercely contested, with candidates from various parties vying for the support of the electorate.

Even during the days of separatists and militants in Kashmir, the polling percentage in the Baramulla seat used to be comparatively higher than that in the other two Lok Sabha constituencies in Kashmir—Srinagar and Anantnag.

Besides Baramulla, the constituency encompasses the Assembly segments of three other districts—Kupwara, Bandipora and Budgam. The seat has a total of 18 assembly segments. This time, the Bramulla contest would be essentially between Omar and Sajad, with the decision of the Congress to support the NC, its I.N.D.I.A ally, further boosting the former CM’s chances. On the other hand, Sajad is getting support from non-I.N.D.I.A parties, like the Altaf Bukhari-led J&K Apni Party, which are perceived to be close to the BJP.

There has been high-pitched campaigning in Baramulla, with both Omar and Sajad levelling allegations against each other, Sajad calls Omar a “tourist who spends summers in London and winters in warmer climates abroad”, while the latter termed the former the proxy of the BJP.

The entry of two-time MLA and jailed leader Sheikh Abdul Rashid, popularly known as Engineer Rashid, into the fray has added another interesting dimension to the polling. 

Political observers say Rashid may get “sympathy votes” as he will be contesting the election from the Tihar prison, where he has been lodged since 2019 following his arrest by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in an alleged terror funding case. 

In the 2019 polls, Rashid secured over one lakh votes and finished third ahead of the PDP and the Congress’s candidates. His entry is expected to give an advantage to Sajad Lone, as he will take a pie from the anti-BJP votes that may have gone to Omar.

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Published 14 May 2024, 20:03 IST

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