Ganderbal district likely to be key for Srinagar parliamentary seat

Ganderbal district likely to be key for Srinagar parliamentary seat
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The twin assembly constituencies of Ganderbal and Kangan in the Ganderbal district are likely to play a decisive part in the election for Srinagar parliamentary seat.

Notification for elections to Srinagar Lok Sabha seat wasissued on March 20 and polling will be held in the second phase on April 18.

The Srinagar seat is witnessing a triangular contest betweenNational Conference patron Dr Farooq Abdullah, People's Democratic Party (PDP)candidate Aga Mohsin and Irfan Raza Ansari of Peoples conference (PC).

Many observers believe the central Kashmir district ofGanderbal will hold the key to who wins this constituency. Budgam and Srinagarare the other constituent districts of the parliamentary seat.

Besides the three main contestants from NC, PDP and PCcandidates from ther parties including the BJP are also in the fray.

However, political observers say Ganderbal will still be adeciding factor for the Srinagar seat citing personal influence of some seniorparty leaders and a good recent record of voter turnout.

So far, Ganderbal and Kangan assembly segments have remaineda bastion of NC over decades, except in 2002 when the party suffered a majorsetback as Omar Abdullah was defeated by PDP's Qazi Afzal from Ganderbalconstituency.

After the previous elections, the two seats of Ganderbaldistrict were represented by NC – Ganderbal by Sheikh Ishfaq Jabbar and Kanganby NC stalwart Mian Altaf Ahmad.

Analysts say senior leader of national conference and scionof Mian family, Mian Altaf who has a great influence in Ganderbal particularlyin Kangan would be a deciding factor this time too.

In the previous elections Altaf managed to secure a lead forhis party in Kangan constituency on his own.

Jabbar also wields significant influence in the Ganderbaldistrict.

After its breakup with BJP, infighting and factionalism inthe PDP has morphed into a crisis for the party, and with the death of itsfounding member Qazi Mohammed Afzal in the district, the party is facing aleadership crisis in Ganderbal.

The party has been looking for a new face in the districtwhich is likely going to take time.

"With the joining of former NC leader and seniorpolitician from Ganderbal Ghulam Ahmed Saloora the PDP will gain some ground inGanderbal," an observer said.

Interestingly, district president of PDP Bashir Ahmed Mirhas also made an impression among the people particularly youth in Kangan inthe previous assembly and parliamentary elections and bagged good number ofvotes for his party candidate, commentators say, pointing to the voter recordsin the constituency.

Mir fought 2014 assembly elections against NC stalwart MianAltaf and lost by about 1500 votes which is not considered a big margin.

Sources said that the name of Mir was also discussed by theparty high command as a candidate for Srinagar parliamentary seat, however AgaMohsin made it finally.

In last by-elections for Srinagar parliamentary seat formerDr Farooq Abdullah won the by-poll for defeating PDP's Nazir Ahmed Khan by amargin of over 10776 votes.

Abdullah got 48,555 votes while Khan got 37,779. There werenine candidates contesting the seat, but it was a direct contest betweenAbdullah and Khan.

In Kangan 10024 votes were polled in favour of NationalConference and 4215 to PDP, in Ganderbal NC got 4455 votes and PDP 4204.

NC took a lead of 5809 votes in Kangan over PDP and 251 inGanderbal.

A 3.84 percent polling was recorded in Srinagar, 8.82percent in Budgam and 14.71 percent in Ganderbal districts.

Kangan assembly segment in Ganderbal district recordedsecond highest voter turnout of around 15000 after Budgam district.

Most observers believe that candidates other than PDP's AgaMoshin who will be backed by party which have a foothold in Ganderbal district,PC's Irfan Ansari and BJP's Khalid Jahangir are unlikely to make any largeimpression though they can't be written off and can fetch a good number ofvotes.

Dr Abdullah is seeking re-election from Srinagar to the 17thLok Sabha for the fourth time. He had lost to the then PDP leader Tariq HameedKarra in 2014 by a margin of nearly 40000 votes.

In the 2017 by-poll Dr Abdullah defeated PDP's Nazir AhmedKhan.

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