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Battleground South Kashmir: Its direct contest between Mir and Mehbooba

Ishtiyaq Ahmed

Srinagar, March 15: For the highly sensitive Lok Sabha seat of restive South Kashmir which is going to polls in three phases, first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir, it is going to be a direct contest between the Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti. Mir will have a full patronage and support of National Conference as the party has no prominent face for the South Kashmir where situation is fragile and atmosphere for polls highly sensitive.

Though the final decision on entering into a pre-poll alliance is yet to be finalized by the NC and Congress leadership, but the sources revealed that ground-work has been done and the call will be taken shortly. The NC delegation sources said, recently visited Delhi to meeting Congress top gun Ghulam Nabi Azad to discuss the pre-poll alliance for at least south Kashmir Lok Sabha seat.

“The discussion was taken to final conclusion with both the parties agreeing on fielding state congress chief Mir for South Kashmir seat,” a senior NC leader, who was part of parleys, told Kashmir Indepth.

He said that there were talks whether Congress can field Taj Mohiudin from north Kashnmir as a joint NC-Congress candidate, but the decision was kept on a hold as NC has zeroed in on former Assembly Speaker Muhammad Akbar Lone as its Parliamentary candidate for Baramulla-Kupwara seat.

“The deliberations are on for north Kashmir seat between the two parties and final decision will be announced soon,” a Congress leader said.

As far as South Kashmir seat, the state congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir said: “He has been nominated by the party leadership for the seat but whether he would be joint candidate of NC and Congress, he wasn’t sure about that. Whatever the Congress high command would decide, I would abide by that.”

From the PDP side, the party chief Mehbooba Mufti would join the fray against Mir. In 2014 parliamentary polls, Mehbooba bagged the seat but after facing a tough fight from the Congress candidate Hilal Ahmed Shah, who lost with a very thin margin. Shah may get mandate for Assembly polls from Anantnag seat. In South Kashmir, considered as the bastion of PDP as most of the former legislators of the party belonged to south Kashmir districts out of its total strengthen of legislators that was 28.

However, party recently suffered a dent as majority of its prominent faces quit it citing “one man rule in the party.” Those who left include Imran Raza Ansari, Abid Ansari, Javaid Mustafa Mir, Syed Basharat Bukhari, Peer Hussain and last but not the least, Haseeb Drabu.

A senior PDP leader confirmed that the party would pitch for Mehbooba to be its candidate for south Kashmir seat. “We are sure about her win,” he said, wishing not to be named. Mehbooba has already started her public out-reach to garner peoples’ support once again.


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