Pulwama, Shopian hold the key

National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, and the Congress are trying their best to motivate the voters ahead of final phase of polling on 6 May in Shopian and Pulwama districts in south Kashmir’s Anantnag parliamentary constituency.

Media reports suggest that these two districts hold the key and the voters in Pulwama and Shopian would decide the winner among PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, NC’s Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, and the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir.

Anantnag and Kulgam districts, where the polling has already been held, witnessed a low turnout. People staying away from the polling booths have sent alarm bells ringing in the camps of all the political parties. It’s too early to predict who would win but one thing is for sure that the Anantnag Parliamentary constituency could throw a surprise.

The PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti is contesting her seventh election from south Kashmir. Till date she has never faced defeat. But this time around nothing much can be said as the PDP also seems unsure. National Conference and Congress are claiming that their candidates are well ahead of the PDP but claims don’t matter; results would speak. 

The ongoing Lok Sabha polls are important for the NC and PDP as the results of these elections would indicate where these parties stand. It looks like that both PDP and NC have confined their activities to Kashmir only and have left Jammu region open for the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party. Is it that NC and PDP leaders have started believing that their chances in Jammu are bleak as people don’t support them? Or is it that the BJP has occupied the entire space in the region?

During the past five years the political landscape of Jammu and Kashmir has changed at a rapid pace. There was a time when New Delhi couldn’t even imagine about forming a government in Jammu and Kashmir without the support of traditional political families in the state. Today the people sitting in the national capital seem least interested in providing any space to these parties. Since the day PDP-BJP government has fallen in the state new faces have surfaced and they are threatening the traditional parties to the core.

In November last year the NC, PDP and Congress came together and tried to form a government in the state. Peoples Conference chairman, Sajad Gani Lone, also put forth his claim but the Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Satya Pal Malik, dissolved the Assembly. The Governor Malik did not entertain any of them and stated that had he not dissolved the Assembly it could have led to “horse trading.” Today NC, Congress and PDP are fighting elections against each other and are leaving no opportunity to score brownie points over one another. Politics in Kashmir has turned out to be a strange game. In 2014 PDP won all the three Parliamentary seats in Kashmir and its entire campaign revolved around keeping BJP at bay. But the fractured mandate in the Assembly elections, which were held in the same year, led to PDP changing the sides quickly. The same party which wanted to keep BJP away from Kashmir entered