Power Play Shifts Gear In Valley
4 April 2006
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: The by-election may throw up a new power equation in the state. The Congress is disenchanted with the PDP and is slowing leaning towards the National Conference. The bone of contention this time is the Congress' decision not to field candidates in the bypolls for Pattan, Sangrama and Rafiabad segments. On the face of it, it seems like something to cheer for the PDP. But on the ground, it signals a warning for Mufti Mohammad Sayed and his brigade. Congress supporters are making no bones about their dissatisfaction with the leadership's decision and are likely to cast their votes the other way. 'We've supported the party against all odds and were hoping to have our own candidates. But our leaders have taken us for a ride. We'll vote any way we want,' said a supporter in Sangrama. What has added fuel to the fire is Sayeed's statement to consider PDP candidates as Congress nominees. It has sent a signal that PDP candidates for these seats had the tacit support of Congress as well. With Congress supporters across the constituencies apparently determined to vote against PDP, the NC could be the winner in Patten and Rafiabad. In Sangrama, Shoaib Nabbi Lone - son of slain PDP leader Ghulam Nabbi Lone who is contesting as an Independent - could gain. The NC may also support him. There are also talks of a secret pact between the NC and the Congress.