Acid test for ruling PDP

Acid test for ruling PDP

 Scheduled for bypoll on April 12, results of south Kashmir’s Anantnag Parliamentary constituency will be crucial for ruling People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) future.

The PDP has fielded Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s brother Tasaduq Hussain against the Congress heavyweight G A Mir.

Spread over four districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian, the constituency has 15 Assembly segments. Considered as PDP bastion, south Kashmir was the epicentre of last year’s unrest.

The National Conference and the Congress have entered into a seat-sharing arrangement for the by-polls to put up a united fight against the PDP-BJP coalition government.

While the NC is contesting from Srinagar, the Congress hopes of a victory in Anantnag rely on its state president Mir.
Both Mufti scion and Mir have a lot at stake as the winner would emerge as strong force in Kashmir politics in years to come while the loser will be relegated to oblivion.
Contesting from Anantnag constituency would be the first electoral test for Tassaduq, who formally joined the PDP on the first death anniversary of his father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 6 this year.

During the campaign, Tasaduq has been focusing on preserving ecology and ensure sustainable development subjects which are quite alien to the common masses and PDP voters.

Mir in his campaign has been appealing to people to exercise their franchise in his favour to “safeguard” the secular identity of the state.

He has said that the state government was being controlled by Nagpur and the PDP was “damaging” the secular fabric of the state.

According to political analysts, besides anti-incumbency, Tasaduq faces anger of people against the PDP for aligning with the right-wing BJP. However, they say, the PDP may be bailed out by poll boycott called by the separatists.

“If the voter turn out is less due to separatist poll boycott call, then it will be advantage PDP as workers of opposition parties may prefer to stay away,” they said.

The PDP also has a reason to believe that it will retain the constituency as out of the 16 MLAs from South Kashmir, the party has 11.

Frequent encounters between security forces and militants, followed by protests, have cast a shadow over the by-election campaign in south Kashmir.

The colourful posters and banners, which were used in abundance in 2014 Assembly and Parliamentary elections, are missing this time.

The Anantnag seat fell vacant after Mehbooba became the chief minister and was elected to the state Assembly.

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