Srinagar, April 22 : Polling will be held on Tuesday in Anantnag, one of the four districts forming south Kashmir Parliamentary seat and eighteen candidates including a non-state subject lawyer is in the fray.
Among others, the main contest remains among PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi of National Conference.
A 57-year-old lawyer Shams Khwaja, hailing from Gautam Budh Nagar of Uttar Pradesh is in contest from the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat which would go to polls district-wise in three phases on April 23, 29 and May 6 due to security concerns. Khwaja’s nomination as an Independent candidate was contested by rival candidates before the District Electoral Officer on the ground that his name was not in electoral rolls of the constituency. However, he managed to convince his opponents and officials that in parliamentary elections any Indian citizen can contest from anywhere, including J&K.
The other candidates in the fray are Sofi Yousuf of Bhartiya Janta Party, Nisar Ahmad Wani of Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party, Ch. Zaffar Ali of Jammu Kashmir People’s Conference, Sanjay Kumar Dhar of Manav Adhikar Party, Surinder Singh of Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) and Imtiyaz Ahmad Rather, Ridwana Sanam, Riyaz Ahmad Bhat, Zubair Masoodi, Ali Mohammad Wani, Gh Mohammad Wani, Kayser Ahmed Sheikh, Manzoor Ahmad Khan and Mirza Sajad Hussain Beigh, all independents.
The District is spread over 6 Assembly segments comprising Anantnag, Dooru, Kokernag, Shangus, Bijbehara and Pahalgam. The polling timing has been reduced by two hours from 7 AM to 4 PM and security remains to be a great concern for south Kashmir districts given by-polls could not be held after Mehbooba Mufti resigned following her father’s death in 2016. Anantnag District has 529256 electors including 269603 males, 257540 females, 2102 service electors (2091 male and 11 female) and 11 transgender voters.
For smooth polling, the ECI has setup 714 polling stations in the district.
Kokernag Assembly segment has the highest number of 93874 voters (48742 males, 44948 females and 180 service voters) while as Dooru has the lowest 79029 electors, including 40764 males, 37889 females and 374 service voters. Assembly segment of Bijbehara has 93516 voters (47067 males, 46222 females and 227 service voters), Shangus 89405 voters (45360 males, 43010 females and 1031 service voters), Pahalgam 86735 (44115 males, 42498 females and 121 service voters) and Anantnag 86699 (43555 males, 42973 females and 169 service voters). Bijbehara assembly segment has the highest number of 46225 female voters whereas Shangus has a total of 1031 service electors which are highest in the district.