Voting for the bypolls to the prestigious Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency of Kashmir began today amid tight security, with nine candidates including National Conference President Farooq Abdullah in the fray. More than 1,500 polling stations have been set up for nearly 12.61 lakh electorate. Polling began at 7 am and will end at 5 in the evening. All the polling stations have been declared as either sensitive or hyper-sensitive keeping in mind threats from various militant outfits and separatist groups, including the Hurriyat Conference.
The seat fell vacant following resignation of PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra, both from the Lower House of Parliament and his party, in protest against the “atrocities” on people during the agitation in the summer last year in the wake of killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8. Abdullah, who is the candidate of his party and the Congress jointly, will take on the ruling PDP’s candidate Nazir Ahmad Khan in a virtual direct contest.
Abdullah tasted his first electoral defeat in his over 35-year-long political career when he lost to Karra in 2014 general elections. Karra, who has since joined the Congress, is now supporting the National Conference president in the bypolls. Khan, on the other hand, joined the PDP after quitting the Congress in February and was announced the candidate by the ruling party for the bypolls.
Voter turnout in Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency in 2014 polls was 26 per cent, slightly better than 25.55 per cent recorded in 2009 elections.