Amid Harsh Chill, Kashmir Politicos Sweat In Anticipation Of Results

21 December 2014
The Hindustan Times
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: As Kashmir slipped into the harshest 40-day spell of the winter on Sunday, the political barometer rose amidst a flurry of exit polls predicting the winner of marathon elections to the state assembly. Just a day away from the D-day, however, leading politicians in the Valley decided to take a day off. Chief minister Omar Abdullah preferred to attend a few private social gatherings after his whirlwind month-long campaign trail in Srinagar, the summer capital. Abdullah will address the media on Monday as his term comes to an end. Facing the pollsters' prediction of a rout, a piqued Abdullah tweeted: 'P.S. why not wait till the 23rd & then give yr viewers facts rather than theories that at this point have neither head nor tail (sic).' Pollsters have predicted the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP occupying the first two slots. PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar, who returned to the Valley after a slew of dusty and cold campaign rallies in Jammu for the last phase which ended on Saturday, said his party hoped to touch the magical number 44 this time. PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, also the party's chief ministerial candidate, however, preferred to stay in his Jammu home, while daughter Mehbooba Mufti, also the PDP president, flew to New Delhi to attend the Parliament session. Several other NC and PDP leaders, like Ali Muhammad Sagar and Altaf Bukhari, were reportedly seen propitiating God in the Sufi shrines ahead of results on December 23. Mirwaiz Amiruddin, head priest of Chrar-e-Sharief Sufi shrine in central Kashmir's Budgam district, said many candidates had also come seeking the Valley's patron saint Sheikh Noor-ud-Din's blessing as the polls were underway. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has set up 28 centres where counting will begin at 8 am on Tuesday. A three-tier security has been put in place at the counting centres. The postal ballots would be taken up for first for counting followed by Electronic Voting Machines.