Polls Heat up Kashmir Winter
By Fayaz Wani - SRI NAGAR
Published: 08th Dec 2013 10:16:38 AM
This winter promises to be hot in Jammu and Kashmir politics.
All three top parties have gone into “election gear” and are conducting “quiet” and “visible” activities to garner support ahead of the 2014 Parliamentary as well as Assembly elections.
The ruling National Conference’s (NC) December 5 rally at Naseembagh, Hazratbal, to mark the 108th birth anniversary of party founder and former chief minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, was effectively the first major “show of strength” by any of the three top political parties.
In the rally—attended by top party leaders, including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his father and Union minister Farooq Abdullah—NC snubbed ally Congress by announcing its candidates for all three Lok Sabha seats from Kashmir.
A senior NC leader said the party recently restructured its youth wing to get them involved in party affairs. The youth brigade along with party leaders will work at grassroots level, listen to the grievances of cadres and people, and try to sort them out. “The party is more focussed on South Kashmir, where PDP president Mehbooba Mufti will contest parliamentary election from Pulwama-Anantnag seat,” he added.
“Our party leaders and cadres are conducting door-to-door campaigns to make people aware about the developmental schemes launched for welfare of the people,” he said, adding that the party is also using “sports activities” as a means to reach the people.
Omar, who is also NC’s working president, has addressed rallies in sensitive Tral and Sopore towns in South and North Kashmir.
However, the Congress is not far behind. State vice-president Muzaffar Ahmad Parray said the party is the most active in the valley and conducting “quiet and visible” activities.
“We are visiting far-flung areas, and conducting door-to-door campaigns. We have even conducted rallies in sensitive downtown Srinagar,” he said.
Parray said party state president Saifuddin Soz held rallies in Zadibal, Eidgah, Aalikadal and other sensitive areas of downtown Srinagar, the areas that witness stone-pelting and demonstrations. “Party workers and leaders put in a lot of ‘quiet hard work’ to ensure the rallies in the hub of moderate Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq,” a Congress leader said.
The party’s Central leaders, however, are yet to attend any rally. “If party high command feels that Central leaders should also accompany state leaders in rallies, then it can decide over it,” said Congress vice-president G N Monga. Soz addressed a Sikh Sammelan in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district on November 24.
The Congress’s National Students’ Union of India is the only student wing active in Kashmir University, where authorities had banned student politics after eruption of militancy in 1989.
The Opposition PDP too is making its presence felt across the state through a series of public meetings. Their president Mehbooba Mufti is the most active figure of the party, and has held rallies and road-shows in her stronghold in South Kashmir and North Kashmir. Her father and PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is more active in Jammu.
On December 3, the PDP president addressed a public meeting at Kamalkote in Uri, close to the Line of Control. On November 27, she addressed series of meetings in Aloosa, Bandipore town and Sumlar in North Kashmir’s Bandipora district. On November 25, she addressed public meetings at Lalpora and Haihama, Lolab in border district of Kupwara.
Earlier she held rallies at Tragam and Banyari in Bandipora district, in Langate area of Kupwara, at Wadipora and Magam in North Kashmir. PDP has also formed a students’ wing called Peoples Democratic Students Union to get more youth involved in the party’s affairs and campaign.