April 2019 News

Mehbooba Mufti Fighting Battle Of Her Life In Anantnag Lok Sabha Seat

12 April 2019

Srinagar: PDP president and former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti played her biggest political gamble when she jumped into poll fray from Anantnag parliamentary constituency at a time when her party's stocks are down, thanks to 2016 unrest and failed alliance with the BJP. Mehbooba, 59, is among the 18 candidates trying their luck from this sensitive seat, in a triangular contest with Congress and National Conference (NC). Both Congress and NC have put up best of candidates. NC has fielded former HC judge Justice Hasnain Masoodi who in 2015 ruled Article 370 of the Constitution cannot be abrogated, Congress has fielded its state chief GA Mir, who lost Dooru assembly constituency to Mehbooba's uncle in 2014. 'It is no ordinary election. We are already getting hints on Constitution amendments being forced in. Next five years are going to be very crucial,' said Justice Masoodi. Mir too harps on to 'threat' secular fabric of the country is facing. 'This election is the best opportunity to defeat BJP-RSS communal agenda,' said Mir. Spread over four districts, Anantnag LS constituency comprises of 16 assembly seats. PDP won 11 of these in 2014 besides lone Anantnag LS seat. NC and Congress won two each and CPM one. Mehbooba won Anantnag defeating NC's Mehboob Beg by 65,417 votes. Beg later defected to PDP and is now one of her closest aides. Mehbooba resigned the seat in 2016 when she became the CM after demise of her father Mufti Mohommad Sayeed. After Burhan Wani unrest, which saw over 100 youth dead and 1,100 others hit by pellets in eyes in 2016, Mehbooba's popularity nosedived and South Kashmir became the epicentre of new-age militancy and civil agitation. It also led to postponing of bypolls to Anantnag indefinitely. Mehbooba's younger brother Tasaduq Hussain Mufti - Bollywood cinematographer of Omkara fame - was making an electoral debut here before the EC decided to countermand polls. Two years on, South Kashmir continues to be on the boil with encounters becoming a new normal. February 14 Pulwama suicide bombing that left 40 CRPF men dead was last nail in the coffin, the reason why the polls, in a first, are being held in three phases. Political observers believe it was the alliance with BJP that led to decline of PDP. After BJP pulled the rug, the PDP started imploding with leaders leaving the party. 'I can't say people were happy about it (alliance). It was done with a purpose. Mufti Sahab had said 'give me 40 seats I want to do something for the resolution of Kashmir issue'. People gave us 28 seats. But they also gave BJP 25 seats,' Mehbooba said.