December 2007 News

High Voltage Campaign In Poonch

7 December 2007
The Hindu

Poonch: A high voltage election campaign is being witnessed in this border Assembly segment which goes to the polls on December 12 with the political elite of the State camping here to win over voters.Poonch has become a mega political battlefield with lot of resources being invested by political parties on the campaign. The reason is quite obvious as the State goes to the polls within some months. The by- election result will be a popularity barometer of parties among the electorate. National Conference president Omar Abdullah skipped the birth anniversary of his grand father Sheikh Abdullah - an important event for the party - to get on with campaigning. He is camping here along with eight legislators and several other important party functionaries. The Congress campaign is led by its senior Cabinet Ministers. The party has already suffered reverses as a faction has already deserted and gone with Yash Paul who was denied ticket. Mr. Paul subsequently filed his candidature as an independent. Gujjar vote There is little doubt that the verdict in Poonch would be principally decided by the Gujjar vote. They comprise the single largest ethnic group in the segment - 37 percentage of voters are Gujjars. Surprisingly there is no Gujjar candidate in the fray and all the political parties are trying to compensate for this by bringing in their top Gujjar leadership here to canvass for their candidates. The Congress is banking upon the former Speaker and Rajya Sabha MP, Chowdhary Aslam, also belonging to the Gujjar ethnic group. Mr. Paul is banking upon his years of work among the Gujjar community.


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