When Anantnag votes in the Assembly bypoll Wednesday, it will mark the first popularity test for J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti and the PDP after the party formed an alliance with the BJP in the state. Campaigning for the bypoll ended Monday. After polling Wednesday, the counting of the votes will take place Saturday (June 25). Mehbooba is contesting the bypoll along with eight other contestants.
The CM is fighting to win the seat that fell vacant after the demise of her father and former CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. Further, after taking oath as CM in April, Mehbooba has to get elected to Assembly within six months.
The three main contenders, PDP, Congress and the National Conference kept electioneering a low key affair with focus on door-to-door campaigning rather than big rallies.
Mehbooba held two road shows and sought votes in the name of development and her father’s vision. She focused more on rural parts instead of urban pockets, where an election boycott will suit the PDP.
The CM had also dispatched a team of her loyalist ministers and party workers to campaign for her. “Unlike the past, it was difficult to woo voters as many people are annoyed with us over the alliance with BJP, but we managed to pull back our workers and voters…We contacted large number of people and are hopeful Mehbooba Mufti will win with a big margin this time,’’ said a close aide of the CM.
The Congress, which got star campaigners Raj Babbar and Mohammad Azharuddin to seek votes for the party, is confident of a victory too.
J&K PCC President Ghulam Ahmad Mir said: “With defeat in sight, PDP is also using official machinery to influence the voters. Our candidate (Hilal Shah) is strong and will give a tough fight to Mehbooba Mufti.’’
Shah had bagged more than 10,000 votes in the previous election. Sources said that PDP was making all the political efforts to minimise Congress’s impact. Some Congress leaders, they added, were also tactically helping the PDP.
NC candidate Ifthikar Ahmad Misger, who had former J&K CM Omar Abdullah campaigning for him, said: “It is the month of Ramzan, so we avoid big rallies, but I am busy in door to door campaigning…”