June 2016 News

Mehbooba Tours Anantnag During Bypoll, 34% Cast Vote In South Kashmir

22 June 2016
The Indian Express
Mir Ehsan

Anantnag: A turnout of 33.8 per cent was recorded in the bypoll for Anantnag Assembly constituency in south Kashmir - 6 per cent less than the last election. While voters were seen jostling with each other at polling booths in rural pockets of Anantnag, the turnout in urban pockets was very low. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and eight others are contesting the election. The bypoll is crucial for Mehbooba, as she has to be elected to the Assembly within six months of taking over as CM. The seat has been vacant since the demise of former CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, after which Mehbooba assumed office in April. Share This Article Share Related Article J&K: 34 per cent turnout in Anantnag, urban voters stay away Jammu and Kashmir: Bypoll campaign ends, Anantnag test awaits CM Mehbooba Mufti Jammu and Kashmir: Anantnag bypoll campaign to end tomorrow JKLF calls for Anantnag bypoll bycott J&K: Second attack in 24 hours, 2 cops killed Mehbooba Mufti files nomination for bypoll from Anantnag Mehbooba and her brother Tassaduq Mufti were seen visiting polling stations and interacting with voters through the day. At Bon Dailgam, she was greeted with cheers. 'Like the mistake on the wall, we have to rectify mistakes,' Mehbooba told The Indian Express, pointing to a wrongly worded message on the wall of a school building, where polling was going on. 'Mehbooba is the only choice,' said 35-year-old Fayaz Ahmad, a government employee, after voting. 'We owe a lot to her father. He had plans to develop our area. In the past few months, on the instructions of Mehboobaji, roads were macadamised, lights were installed and the foundation of a medical college was laid,' he said. Another voter, businessman Mohammad Jamal, cited the disbanding of the Special Task Force as one of the PDP's biggest contributions. 'She (Mehbooba) will prove a better politician than her father, we have to trust her,' he said. As Mehbooba left, former Congress minister Taj Mohiuddin and other senior Congress leaders visited the polling station. 'We are getting many votes, despite the government's efforts to ensure the CM's victory,' he said. Dailgam, a semi-urban area, witnessed brisk polling. 'A woman is heading our state for the first time, that is why I came here to vote,' said 45-year-old Jameela Akthar, who was accompanying her mother and daughter to polling booth no 14. At neighbouring Keribal village, voters thronged four polling stations inside a school building. Workers of various parties were busy bringing people in private vehicles. 'People are voting here as they want development. In the town, people stay away as they get facilities without asking. We have to fight for the smallest amenities,' said Imtiyaz Ahmad, a villager. 'It is a neck-to-neck contest between the PDP and Congress,' said Javad Saleem, a villager at booth 86 C. 'The PDP brought the RSS and BJP to Kashmir. I will vote for a candidate who can stop these communal forces,' he said. The urban pockets presented a contrast to the enthusiasm of rural areas. At Lal Chowk, the business centre, voters arrived in ones and twos. 'Had people given the PDP a decisive mandate, the leadership would have never formed the government with BJP. The PDP took the decision for the sake of the people,' said Abdul Rashid, a contractor who was trying to motivate people to vote. However, many people in the crowd near Hanfia College - where three booths were set up - said they preferred to stay away. 'The boycott suits the PDP. They are only concerned with rural pockets. Sayeed represented this constituency, but we didn't witness any major development,' said Waseem ur Rehman, a resident of Lal Chowk. At neighbouring Cheeni Chowk and Malknag, where stray incidents of stone pelting were witnessed, the turnout was poor even as police and CRPF in riot gear kept a close eye on the narrow lanes. 'Majority of people here stayed away as we have no faith in mainstream parties,' said Abdul Majeed, a university student, at Malknag.