Kashmir Age

Political parties keep campaigning low-key for by-polls

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 ‘Our overall strategy is to reach every voter’

Srinagar: Peoples Democratic Party and National Conference-Congress contesting the by-polls for two parliamentary seats in Anantnag and Srinagar are keeping campaigning low-key because of the prevailing volatile security situation in Kashmir 2016 summer unrest.

Political parties said that campaigning for the elections would be difficult in the atmosphere existing in the valley post the 6-month long uprising in 2016.

As thousands of people were injured due to pellets and bullets fired by forces to quell protests in 2016, the political parties are wary of provoking the agitated people by going for a high-voltage campaigning.

Till now, both PDP and NC-Congress have held closed-door conventions in the two parliamentary seats in government Dak Bungalows or party offices.

The political leaders campaigning for the election said that enthusiasm for voting and elections is missing among people. Only senior activists and workers of the parties are participating in the poll meetings.

An activist of the ruling PDP from Pulwama district said that he has attended most of the meetings across south Kashmir that the party held for its candidate Tasaduq Mufti. He said that the activists are called by the party representatives to attend almost every meeting and convention across the Lok Sabha constituency. NC-Congress, too, follow the same strategy, their workers said.

31 assembly segments comprising 26.7 lakh voters are slated to cast their votes during the by-polls, according to Chief Electoral Officer of the state, Shantmanu.

16 Assembly segments comprising more than 13 lakh voters are listed voters in Anantnag-Kulgam-Pulwama Lok Sabha seat, while 15 assembly constituencies in Srinagar-Budgam-Ganderbal parliamentary seat have 13 lakh voters.

The Election Commission of India will set up 3,194 polling stations in the two parliamentary constituencies and most of the polling stations have been declared as “sensitive or hypersensitive”. Shantmanu had said that 1,559 polling booths will be set up in Srinagar and 1,600 in Anantnag.

Of these assembly segments, south Kashmir’s Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and some areas in Anantnag present a challenge to the security forces as well as politicians.

While PDP has fielded Mufti Tasaduq, son of PDP founder late Mufti Sayeed, and Nazir Khan from Anantnag and Srinagar parliamentary seats, NC-Congress which are contesting together against PDP on seat-sharing arrangement have fielded NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah and JK Congress unit president G A Mir.

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee President G A Mir said that their strategy is to go for phase-wise campaigning.

“We have decided to go for low-key campaigning in phase-I and then we have planned to hold big rallies in the phase-II. Our top leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad and leadership of National Conference will address those rallies,” Mir told KNS.

He said that PDP is holding campaigns in government Dak Bungalows and party offices because they have the facilities available to them. “But when I seek permission for the same, it is either delayed or denied,” he said.

NC provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani said that the campaigning for elections have been always the same. “It is always like this: Slow in the beginning and then hold big rallies. We have held big rallies in Ganderbal, Srinagar, Budgam and we will be holding big rallies in Anantnag soon,” Wani told KNS.

Wani said that PDP cannot hold big rallies as they cannot face people whom they have brutally dealt with during 2016 protests. “They (PDP) gather workers in their homes and Dak Bungalows as they know going before people is dangerous for them,” he said.

PDP General Secretary Nizamudin Bhat told KNS that strategies are formed as per circumstances.

“PDP will reach to all those voters to whom we have accessibility. In some areas we can hold big rallies. For example, in assembly segments like Kangan, Noorabad, atmosphere is very vibrant. Our overall strategy is to reach every voter,” Bhat added.

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