Campaigning for first leg of polling ends

The campaigning for the first leg of polling in the Anantnag LokSabha constituency, spread over four vast districts, ended on Sunday.

The four districts include Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian.

Anantnag district will go to the polls on Tuesday (April 23) in the third phase of the ongoing general elections.

Considering the security scenario, the Election Commission of India (ECI), in an unprecedented move, decided to hold the elections in this restive LokSabha seat in three phases.

While the Kulgam district will vote during the fourth phase on April 29, the elections in the twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian will be held in the fifth phase on May 6.

It was relatively a low-key campaigning across the southern constituency, with no major rallies held by political parties and most of the campaigning remaining confined to Dak Bungalows and Town Halls.

Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti, who is facing an uphill task of retaining her winning streak, made her presence felt by holding some rallies here.

She is locked in a direct contest with senior Congress leader and chief of the party in J&K Ghulam Ahmad Mir, the judge-turned-politician HassnainMasoodi and BJP’s candidate  SofiYousuf, who has been a MLC in the previous PDP-BJP government.

18 candidates are in the poll fray in the LokSabha seat, including a Supreme Court lawyer from New Delhi, Shams Khawaja.

An election official said there were around 12 rallies held in Anantnag district during the campaigning period, which by and large remained peaceful.

The polling in south Kashmir will be keenly watched within and outside Kashmir as the region has been on the edge ever since 2016.

In April 2017, the government, fearing violence, had to cancel the Anantnag seat by-elections that were necessitated after Mehbooba Mufti vacated it to return to the state politics.