March 2017 News

Parties Begin Election Campaign For Lok Sabha Bypolls

19 March 2017
The New Indian Express
Fayaz Wani

Srinagar: As the political parties have started election campaign for bypolls to two parliamentary seats in the Valley amidst poll boycott call by the separatists, a convention of ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was attacked by stone pelters in South Kashmir on Sunday. The bypolls to Srinagar-Budgam Lok Sabha seat in Central Kashmir and Anantnag-Pulwama seat in South Kashmir would be held on April 9 and April 12 respectively. The bypolls were necessitated after PDP's founding member Tariq Hamid Karra resigned from the party and as MP from Srinagar seat during unrest last year while Anantnag seat fell vacant after Mehbooba Mufti became CM of the State and was elected to the State Assembly. The elections are being held at a time when there is anger among people against the Mehbooba government for mishandling of situation during the unrest last year triggered by killing of 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8, 2016. The PDP and opposition parties National Conference and Congress have started election campaign to woo voters. While PDP has given mandate to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's cinematographer brother Mufti Tassaduq from Anantnag seat and Nazir Khan from Srinagar seat, NC and Congress have joined hands and NC's Farooq Abdullah would be contesting from Srinagar seat and Congress's state president G A Mir from Anantnag seat. Mehbooba's brother Tassaduq started his election campaign on Saturday by addressing party workers at Dak Bungalow Khanabal in South Kashmir's Anantnag district. In his address, he asked party workers not to put their lives at risk in ensuring his victory in the parliamentary by-polls. 'You have to make me win, but certainly not at the cost of your life. Ensuring your own individual safety should be your utmost priority,' he told the party workers. The party held another workers convention at Dak Banglow in Chawalgam area of South Kashmir's Kulgam district today. However, the convention was attacked by stone pelters. Locals said youth pelted stones on the PDP workers during the convention, causing injuries to at least two ruling party workers. The injured workers were hospitalised. The convention was attended by senior PDP leader and Law Minister Abdul Haq Khan, PDP Rajya Sabha member Nazir Laway and other senior leaders. The NC kick-started its election campaign yesterday with party leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah addressing workers at party headquarters in Srinagar. During their address, both Farooq and Omar lashed out at PDP and BJP and said parliament bypolls were important battle that would both define and measure the strength of people in resisting the 'tyrannical onslaught of the BJP and RSS in J&K.' The Congress kick-started its election campaign from South Kashmir's Dooru, Verinag area. The party leaders addressed a joint NC-Congress workers meeting today during which people were urged to vote for NC and Congress candidates to defeat the fascist forces. Meanwhile, NC and Congress held a high-level joint coordination meeting of party leaders, legislators, segment in-charges and office bearers at NC headquarters, here today. The leaders of two parties said they would work in close quarters to ensure success of their candidates in Anantnag and Srinagar Parliament seats. They said the NC and Congress leaders would campaign for NC president Farooq Abdullah in Central Kashmir and State Congress chief G A Mir in South Kashmir. The election campaign has so far been confined to indoors. It remains to be seen whether the two parties would also stage election rallies in open in South Kashmir or Central Kashmir, which witnessed over five month of unrest last year during which 92 people were killed and over 13000 civilians injured in security forces action. The separatists have called for poll boycott and asked people to stay away from electoral process. Meanwhile, PDP's coalition partner BJP is likely to take a decision tomorrow whether to contest the by-polls to two parliamentary seats in the valley or support its ally.

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